Solar panels generate energy and jobs

(WMC-TV) - The new solar panels in Midtown are not only generating energy, they are generating jobs.

Memphis Bioworks is putting the finishing touches on a new Midtown solar array atop their parking garage at Dudley Street and Union Avenue.

"It covers about two acres in size or about 86,000 square feet," said Brandon Wellford, Memphis Bioworks. "It's generating annually about 1.1 million kilowatt hours."

They expect to put green energy back on the grid.

"Our goal was to train 395 workers in 26 counties in this region," explained Pauline Vernon, Memphis Bioworks Director of Workfoce Development.

The company exceeded that goal. It trained 469 workers through a 2010 federal stimulus grant, putting electricians like Terry Patrick back to work.

"I was out of work at the time. I was doing the training but I went ahead and finished the training, it was about a three month course that I did," said Patrick.

Learning to install solar panels was new territory for Patrick.

"I didn't know if it would pay off but all of a sudden the panels started coming to Memphis and it paid off," he said.

There are about 3,000 solar panels on top of the parking garage, all producing electricity going back to the MLGW power grid. It took about 35 trained workers to finish the six week project.

"Memphis Bioworks is just thrilled to be a leader in the community in implementing green technology and training the workforce to produce that technology" said Vernon.

The Mid-South's largest urban solar array will power an average of 100 homes annually. Memphis Bioworks said they look forward to clean energy expansion.

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