Obama touts alternative energy at plant in Fremont

President Obama arriving in Fremont at Nummi's South parking lot. Photo submitted by Jeanne Hetrick via ABC7 News uReport.
May 26, 2010 7:52:35 PM PDT
President Obama used his time in the Bay Area to point out the need for alternative fuel sources in the wake of the Gulf oil disaster.

The president spent Wednesday in Fremont visiting a solar manufacturing plant built with federal stimulus money. He offered more than a promise at the Solyndra Fremont plant. They have hired 3,000 construction workers to build a 300,000 square foot manufacturing plant in Fremont with another one like it on drawing board.

President Obama toured Solyndra's main manufacturing plant in Fremont Wednesday where the company CEO showed off the tubular construction of Solyndra's distinctive solar panels. The president shook hands with plant workers and got his picture taken with some of the construction workers idled Wednesday because of security concerns.

Then, he walked into the new facility that was built largely with $535 million in federal loan guarantees.

"When it's completed in a few months, Solyndra expects to hire 1,000 workers to manufacture solar panels and sell them across America and around the world," the president said.

The president also said that is only the beginning.

"And, that's why I'm going to keep fighting to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation in Washington," he said. "We're going to try and get it done this year."

He told the invited audience of Solyndra employees and public officials that the oil spill in the Gulf underscores the necessity of seeking alternative energy sources.

"Our thoughts and prayers are very much with the people along the Gulf Coast. And, then let me reiterate, we will not rest until this well is shut, the environment is repaired, and the cleanup complete," he said.

The president plans to visit the Gulf Coast on Friday. Construction workers who heard the president speak Wednesday afternoon were impressed.

"It was a good speech, covered a lot of pertinent issues today," Scott Smith said.

Smith is a construction supervisor. A lot of his workers were told to stay home without pay Wednesday because of the president's visit, but the work and the pay will be made up later.

Apprentice Mike Krasilnikoff says he never imagined he would meet the president.

"He's a great orator," he said. "I agree with everything he had to say."

The CEO of the company was also pretty happy.

"It's a thrill and a big inspiration, and it was, it was an incredible experience to walk with him and talk with him on the tour in Fab One," Chris Gronet told ABC7.

Solyndra says it will be selling solar panels made on their new assembly line this fall.

From Fremont, the president boarded Marine One for a quick flight to San Francisco International Airport. There, he shook a few hands for a couple of minutes before boarding Air Force One for the flight back to Washington DC.

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