First Solar Has New Leader

First Solar announced this week that the company is making leadership change. Robert Gillette has been appointed chief executive officer, succeeding Mike Ahearn.

Gillette spent the last four and a half years as the CEO and president of Honeywell Aerospace, Honeywell International’s most profitable business group with current sales of more than $12 billion annually.

“I compliment the Board of Directors and the search committee for identifying and bringing to First Solar an executive possessing a unique combination of skills and experiences that make him an ideal leader for First Solar in the next wave of our growth,” Ahearn said

Gillette will assume his duties as CEO and join the Board of Directors effective October 1, 2009. As previously announced, Ahearn will continue to serve in the full-time position of executive chairman.

The appointment of a new CEO comes as First Solar is gearing up to install more than 600 megawatts (MW) of projects around the world. These include two projects for Southern California Edison (SCE) to build two large-scale solar power projects in Riverside and San Bernardino counties in Southern California with a total capacity of 550-MW.

The projects are the 250 megawatt Desert Sunlight project near Desert Center, California, and the 300 megawatt Stateline project in northeastern San Bernardino County. Pending network upgrades and receipt of applicable governmental permits, construction is scheduled to begin in 2012 for Desert Sunlight and 2013 for Stateline. Both projects are expected to be completed in 2015.


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