Milwaukee solar panel maker lands deal with U.S. military, adds 2nd shift

Posted on July 6, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Energy independence, Jobs, Solar | Tags: , , |

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Solar panels produced by Helios Solar Works of Milwaukee will be used by the U.S. Army, the FBI and other government customers under a strategic partnership announced Tuesday by Arista Power Inc.

Arista is a manufacturer of wind turbines and renewable energy storage systems based in Rochester, N.Y.

Financial terms of the partnership weren’t disclosed.

Helios will supply Arista with panels and will refer solar business opportunities to Arista. Arista has agreed to distribute Helios products to the military.

“One of the major benefits of our high-performance modules is their flexibility, which makes it possible to design systems that satisfy a variety of needs, from residential, commercial and governmental applications,” said Steve Ostrenga, Helios chief executive. “We view this as a perfect fit with Arista Power’s products, which are scalable and can be adapted to serve a variety of markets.”

The announcement comes as Helios is seeing demand for made-in-Milwaukee solar panels from the military, Ostrenga said in an interview. Helios is making panels for military bases in Arkansas, New York and Virginia.

“We’re getting a lot of movement in the military because the military has made a stance that, because of energy security, they want to be energy independent,” he said.

A large order for a military base in San Diego began production this week.

As a result of the demand, the company recently added a second shift, and employment is now at about 30 people, Ostrenga said. Plans are in the works for a third shift.

The Department of Defense released an energy strategy last month that incorporates greener technologies as a way to protect soldiers. Thousands of U.S. servicemen have lost their lives in attacks on fuel and other supply convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“As long as U.S. forces rely on large volumes of energy, particularly petroleum-based fuels, the vulnerability and volatility of supplies will continue to raise risks and costs for the armed forces,” the Pentagon said in a report to Congress.


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