Ossoff: Georgia positioned to be global leader in clean energy

Office of Sen. Ossoff

Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, left, interacts with Thedis Niblet at the Hanwha Q Cells solar module manufacturing plant in the Carbondale Business Park during a tour of the facility. Ossoff touted Georgia's role in developing "clean energy."

Georgia is rapidly becoming "the heart of America's clean energy sector," said Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff.

Ossoff spoke Monday after touring the Hanwha Q Cells solar module manufacturing plant in the Carbondale Business Park south of Dalton.

"The state of Georgia hosts the largest solar module manufacturing facility in the Western Hemisphere," said Ossoff, referring to the Q Cells plant. "That's extraordinary."

The plant, which opened in 2019, currently employs 750, mostly from Whitfield County and adjacent counties, according to Human Resources Director Lisa Nash. The modules produced by the plant can generate 1.6 gigawatts of solar energy a year.

"To put that in context, that's about the peak output of Hoover Dam," said Q Cells Director of Strategy and Market Intelligence Scott Moskowitz.

Ossoff, a Democrat, defeated Republican incumbent David Perdue in a Jan. 5 runoff. Since taking office he has made "clean energy," which doesn't rely on fossil fuels, one of his main focuses. He was also scheduled to tour the SK Innovation electric vehicle battery plant in Commerce on Monday. That plant represents a $2.6 billion investment and is scheduled to open in 2022. It is expected to employ some 2,600 at its peak.

"These investments and others are positioning Georgia to be not just a national leader but a global leader in the production of clean energy and clean energy technology," Ossoff said. "This is a generational opportunity to invest in Georgia, in jobs here in Georgia, and in clean energy production, and to reimagine our state's place in our national economy as the leader in the sector."

Ossoff also touted the infrastructure bill being developed by President Joe Biden and the Democratic leadership in Congress.

"This upcoming infrastructure plan is a moment of opportunity for us to make sure that U.S. policy invests in making this kind of production activity more economical," he said.

Ossoff said the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress in March, will have a big impact on Dalton and Whitfield County.

"Under the American Rescue Plan, the city of Dalton will receive $10.8 million in direct relief," he said. "Whitfield County $20 million in direct relief. Dalton city schools $15 million, and Whitfield County Schools $27 million. That's to support safe reopening of schools and sustain local services during the (COVID-19) pandemic. And this upcoming infrastructure bill will be another opportunity to invest in infrastructure here that raises the standard of living and improves the quality of life and helps support and attract more economic investment like this plant."

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