Reporting Jeff Gilbert
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INTERVIEW: Jon Lauckner, GM Ventures President talks about investment.
A deal between GM and a solar power company will likely mean solar power stations at Chevy dealerships, and a doubling of the amount of solar energy used at GM plants.
GM Ventures—a part of the company used to find interesting start-ups—is investing $7.5 million dollars in Sunlogics PLC, a company that specializes in solar project development and installation.
“Part of the GM Ventures funding will help Sunlogics open a manufacturing facility in Rochester Hills, Michigan and another one in Ontario, Canada,” says Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures. “In total, this investment helps create 310 jobs at Sunlogics, with the vast majority of them being in Michigan.”
GM says it will use the investment to double the solar energy it uses in its plants from 30 megawatts today to 60 megawatts over the next few years. GM says that’s equivalent to powering 10 thousand homes a year.
This will also allow Chevy dealers to purchase “solar canopies” to power electric recharging stations at the dealerships.
“When vehicles are not charging under these solar canopies, power can be returned to the grid,” said Lauckner, in an interview with WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert. “This also provides an opportunity for dealers to offset their electrical energy consumption.”
Sunlogics will use the investment to grow its business worldwide.
“The partnership provides a new level of opportunity to the larger scale industrial solar projects Sunlogics designs, manufactures and constructs,” said Sunlogics CEO Michael Matvieshen , in a statement. “We are looking forward to further assisting our customers in reducing their carbon footprint with sustainable renewable energy.”
Solar energy remains relatively expensive, compared to other forms of generating electricity. But, Lauckner says the cost has been cut in half in recent years. He says he could see a day when GM offers a solar powered recharging option for Volt owners.
“There are some Chevy Volt owners today that actually are charging their Volts using solar power at home,” he said. “It’s already on the way.”
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