Solar Module Production Facility Taking Shape in Mountain Iron
The Sun is Shining Brighter in the Community of Mountain Iron as a New Solar Project Gets Underway
MOUNTAIN IRON, Minn. – Aside from the vibrant mining industry, one Iron Range community is now helping to diversify the workforce, becoming a new leader in solar energy.
“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him,” said Martin Pochtaruk, President and CEO of Heliene.
With the help of a dedicated state senator, solar energy will soon be shining brighter in the community of Mountain Iron.
“He was the proponent of the original building that we continue to use today,” said Pochtaruk.
“It’s all been very difficult, but it all came together,” said State Senator David Tomassoni.
Heliene is a private company producing solar modules.
“We came here in 2017 responding to a call from State Sen. Tomassoni when the previous facility that was operating here decided to close,” said Pochtaruk.
Now thanks to the help of Sen. Tomassoni, Heliene has broken ground on a new multi-million dollar facility that’ll produce solar modules, helping to combat the ongoing climate crisis around the world.
“We’ll have 12 people standing on the line at all time, eight will be working on the line, and four will be feeding materials and taking modules out,” said Pochtaruk.
“This is really important for pointing the way of diversifying the economy in the area,” said Mark Phillips, Commissioner for IRRRB.
The company produces 500,000 to 750,000 modules per year. With this new factory, they expect that number to double.
“It’s going to be a very modern, highly robotized line. It will produce one solar module every 24 seconds,” said Pochtaruk.
“Now we’re not only building America with our iron ore and steel, but we’re also providing solar panels for the United States of America. Once again, we’re doing our part,” said Tomassoni.
For Sen. Tomassoni, it’s an accomplishment years in the making. One he hopes will provide comfortable, stable, good-paying jobs down the line.
“We’re also giving people who might not be able to get a job, a chance to become productive citizens,” said Tomassoni.
The City of Mountain Iron will own and operate the new facility while Heliene leases long-term. The Canadian-based company will pay over 9.5 million dollars to furnish the facility with state-of-the-art technology for production.
“Provided the sun comes up, you will have electrons coming out of the solar modules we make,” said Pochtaruk.
With groundwork wrapped up, and the sun now casting light on this construction zone, officials that helped make the project a reality can’t wait for a brighter future in green energy.
“I’m very honored by it. There were probably ten people in the crowd they could have named it after,” said Tomassoni. “I don’t know if I deserve the building being named after me or not, but I’ll take it.”
$12 million in state grants is going to the City of Mountain Iron to pay for the construction of the new facility.
It’s expected to be complete in June of 2022.