A major supplier of solar electric manufacturing equipment and PV systems, Spire Corporation, says that sales of solar electric systems by its Spire Solar Chicago operation rose sharply in the second quarter of this year.BEDFORD, Massachusetts, US, 2001-08-29 [SolarAccess.com] The company says higher revenues from solar equipment and system sales only partially offset the continued phase-down of its optoelectronics research activities and reduced licensing fees at Spire Biomedical. It reported a 7 percent increase in revenues for the second quarter ended June 30. The net loss for the second quarter was greater than the year-earlier period, largely owing to increased investment spending in the solar power generation business and for new product development at Spire Biomedical. Spire Solar Chicago, which supplies PV systems to the City of Chicago and the ComEd utility under a three-year $8 million purchase commitment, recorded its best sales ever, according to Roger Little, president and CEO of Spire. The Illinois Department of Commerce & Community Affairs has been very supportive of the efforts through its Renewable Energy Resources Program, says Little. The most recent rooftop installation on the Field Museum of Natural History is the largest solar electric system in Illinois and one of the largest in the U.S. midwest, he explains. To date, Spire has installed PV electric systems on Chicago museums, schools and commercial buildings valued at $1.8 million, representing more than 160 peak kilowatts of solar generating capacity. By the end of this year, Spire Solar Chicago plans to install grid-connected systems on as many as 15 more buildings. “We believe that the Spire Solar Chicago business model can be adapted to other cities where the growing demand for clean, renewable sources of energy is opening up new business opportunities for the local production of PV systems geared to local markets,” says Little. “In July, the City of Brockton, Massachusetts invited Spire to participate in an economic and technical feasibility study that could lead to establishing a large-scale solar power project on two industrial brownfields.” Spire Solar Chicago is a PV manufacturing facility established in cooperation with the City of Chicago, Commonwealth Edison, the state of Illinois and BP Solar. It assembles solar panels, integrates panels into PV systems and installs and maintains the systems at customer sites.