Modesto grocer meets Obama

FREMONT — Modesto-area grocer Chuck O'Brien was on hand Wednesday for President Barack Obama's visit to a solar panel factory.

The company, Solyndra Inc., made the panels recently installed atop the O'Brien's Markets in Riverbank and northwest Modesto.

O'Brien met the president, who talked about the value of investing in renewable energy to create jobs and reduce fossil fuel consumption.

O'Brien installed a total of nearly 600 kilowatts of solar generation on the two stores with the help of Panelized Structures of Modesto.

The system has met 28 percent of the power demand at the Riverbank store and 40 percent on Dale Road, he said.

"It's both a business decision and a personal and corporate commitment to clean energy," he said, adding that Modesto-area people were employed in the installation.

The Roseburg Square store in Modesto was not included because its roof is the wrong design for solar.

Many grocers have looked to solar electricity because of their high demand for refrigeration and lighting, and their large roofs.

The Fremont plant was built with the help of a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal stimulus package.

Gov. Schwarzenegger also was at Wednesday's event.