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Posted on Sun, Sep 13, 2009 : 5:43 a.m.

Top 5 reasons the Ford Wixom energy plant deal matters to Ann Arbor

By Nathan Bomey

Two alternative energy companies recently announced a $725 million deal to turn the 4-million-square-foot ex-Ford plant in Wixom into a renewable energy park. 

The plant is located about 40 miles from Ann Arbor, but it still matters to this city. Here's why it's important to Ann Arbor:

1. Hiring: The energy companies plan to add 4,000 workers for the operation, which is commutable from Ann Arbor.

2. Redevelopment: The plan shows there’s redevelopment hope for massive abandoned auto plants, including possibly Willow Run’s soon-to-be-vacant General Motors plant.

3. Image: The investment, which is being touted as the nation’s largest single-site alternative energy operations, could help revolutionize the region’s image to focus on green technologies.

4. Research: The solar panel and battery manufacturing elements of the site could eventually lead to commercialization partnerships with University of Michigan faculty and spinoff tech companies.

5. Technology: Additional investments in solar panel technology will continue to reduce the cost of photovoltaic panels, which makes it more affordable for local businesses and consumers to use renewable power. 

Contact's Nathan Bomey at or (734) 623-2587 or follow him on Twitter.