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Canadian company likes Chula Vista Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Oct 09 2010 12:00 PM

The city of Chula Vista is one step closer to producing advanced clean technology thanks to a $3.3 million loan from the California Energy Commission.

Canadian-based Morgan Solar, Inc., a company that develops large-scale, low-cost solar technology, will move to Chula Vista next month to establish a concentrated photovoltaic solar panel manufacturing facility in the community.

The concentrated solar panel essentially captures the sun's heat and uses it to create a resource that can serve entire neighborhoods instead of one property.

Using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, the commission established the state's Clean Energy Business Financing Program for California-based manufacturers of solar products.

Morgan Solar will also provide an estimated $3.3 million in leveraged funds.

The CEC will help create 105 new jobs, supporting the city's growth in the biotech sector.

"In one sense it's almost creating a market for manufacturers to create their product for consumers in the area," Craig Ruiz, the principle economic development specialist for the city of Chula Vista said.

Ruiz marketed the city's development for this project and said Morgan Solar's presence is significant.

"As a city we're trying to grow our clean tech industries," he said. "Anytime a company relocates from the outside it's a huge benefit for jobs."

The Department of Conservation and the Economic Development Department have worked to bring Morgan Solar to Chula Vista for the past year.

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox said the new facility will generate long-term benefits for Chula Vista. "The cost to the consumer will go down," she said. "But most importantly, it's the right thing to do for the environment," she said.

Brendan Reed, the environmental resource manager for the city of Chula Vista, said conservation programs have been an example of the city's leadership.

Cox said there have been many first steps toward producing clean technology in the city.

For example, she said Chula Vista High School uses solar tubes in their classrooms to conserve energy use.

Ruiz said the city has had several projects where they've made solar additions to departments. "We're actively pursing a clean generation on our facilities," he said.

"If we build energy efficiency into our future and use it wisely, we could survive off gas-fired power plants that are only used to complement solar and wind," said Michael Meacham, director of the Department of Conservation and Environmental Services.

However, Meacham said behavioral changes from residents will maximize resources.

For example, reducing the use of energy between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. is key and will help eliminate the need for large, base-load power plants in the future.

Cox said new solar panels mean less use for the South Bay power plant.

"I'm hoping that we continue to bring solar manufacturing companies not only to Chula Vista, but the South Bay region," Cox said.

Meacham said the clustering effect of high tech businesses helps attract additional businesses. "We don't promote enough what a great place it is to live for young engineers," Meacham said.

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