Opening of the First Solar-Tracking Car Charger
August 8, 2011
It’s terrific to be in Montgomery County on any day. I want to thank County Executive Mike Blaggat for turning down the thermostat, picking up the wind, working with the good Lord to make this an ideal day to celebrate this new clean, green energy technology. I want to say congratulations to Tripp Aubinoe and Rob Lundahl, and also Dr. Jackson Yang. Dr. Yang, you represent so many of the great stories that are unfolding here in Maryland all in one human being. What you are doing to transfer technology from our great universities into the economy and to make it real is a great story. Your immigrant story, great American story … your view of the future and your willingness to take solid steps to get there; this is the story of our State, this is really who we are when we are at our best.
I think there’s a sense throughout our country that we have lost our direction and we need to become redirected. There is a sense that we have lost our balance and we need to rebalance. And there’s a sense that we’ve become disconnected from one another, from nature, and from the future that we are trying to give to our children and we must become reconnected to all of those. And that’s what this day, in a microcosm, is all about.
Tom Friedman, who is from Bethesda, Maryland, right? Tom Friedman calls our American economy a “high imagination enabling economy,” … a high imagination enabling economy.
Maryland’s economy is increasingly that sort of economy – call it a high imagination enabling economy, call it a knowledge-based economy, call it the innovation economy. ATR sun-tracking charging station is the very embodiment of that innovation and imagination economy.
I think that this is not a Democratic or Republican idea, it is a historic and economic fact that a modern economy requires modern investments in order to create jobs. And that is why President Obama had the foresight with the support of Congressman VanHollen, Congresswoman Edwards, Senator Ben Cardin, Barbara Mikulski and her whole congressional delegation to push the Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Now a lot of the work, a lot of the real jobs that allowed our neighbors to put food on their table were not the sort of things that were new and innovative and glitzy and made for a sort of, “gosh gee whiz, scratch my head, what is that?”
But it was all important work … whether it was repaving our roads, or doing the important work of teaching our children, or protecting the public health. But in this instance today, this is the manifestation of some of those dollars you really couldn’t take a picture of early on. They were dollars that were supposed to prime the pump of imagination and innovation so we could become energy independent, so that we could grow in cleaner, greener ways, so we could do our part in our generation to pass onto our children air that they could actually breathe. Through these grants, we are projected to create as many as 250 construction jobs and 47 permanent jobs, but just maybe, just maybe, we might be able to also take the lead in ushering in a whole new mode of transportation, a whole new way of doing things that leads to a whole new sector in our economy.
One of the reasons today is possible is because of one of those awards to ATR, the company that is responsible here today. We chose to invest in ATR because it’s an investment in Maryland, it’s an investment in jobs, it’s an investment in innovation, it’s an investment in a clean, green economy that all of us want for our children.
The ATR sun tracking charging station combines things, reconnects things, connects our need to drive with our need for renewable energy, reconnects the power of this solar system to the power of human innovation and the power that’s required to make our economy go. It’s about jobs, education, skills, innovation, green tech; all of these things are connected one to the other. By the end of the year, we project that we’ll be at about 1,200 jobs in solar installation and marketing. That’s not by chance, that’s by choice. There are a number of things that states can do to advance that vision and our state is doing it.
We’ve always been a state that leads, especially in times of adversity, and I might say, times of national doubt. We set big goals, we pursue them and we trust that providence and the innovation of our people will combine and connect to do the rest.
I’ll leave you with this final thought. We’re creating 800 new jobs because we were able to convince GM to build their next generation of electric drive motors, not in Mexico but right here in Maryland. And get this: their plant is also powered largely by solar energy.
These times, these changing times where we’re not able to quite see over that next horizon require that we work simultaneously and bring them together. And that’s what this solar panel does, this electric vehicle charging station powered by the sun, is helping us to create jobs and power our way into a better, more balanced, more directed and more connected future. Thank you all very, very much.