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Iron Range solar panels receive high marks

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The U.S. Department of Energy says solar panels assembled in Mountain Iron, Minn., are among the most reliable in America, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

Tests by National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado showed the panels built by Silicon Energy were the most durable when it comes to high humidity and temperature extremes.

“The panels we make in Minnesota went up against five of the world’s biggest and best, and we beat them all,” Gary Shaver, Silicon Energy president, told the newspaper.

Silicon Energy missed its first two repayments last year on a $1.5 million government loan after selling fewer panels than expected. The loan has since been restructured and comes due starting in September, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

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Another labor deal with mine workers reached on the Iron Range

Members of the United Steelworkers union and Cliffs Natural Resources have agreed on a new three-year labor contract, the Duluth News Tribune reports. The deal covers about 1,100 workers at ore plants in Eveleth and Hibbing. Both sides failed to reach an agreement by the Sept. 1 deadline, but agreed to a contract extension that kept the northern Minnesota plants operating while negotiations continued.

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The Duluth News Tribune reports the $297 million deal could bring anywhere from 200 to 400 new jobs to northern Minnesota.

Northern Minnesota solar panel maker struggles amid slow sales

Silicon Energy has missed its first two repayments on a $1.5 million government loan, the Star Tribune reports. The Mountain Iron plant says sales were half what they expected. The manufacturer is citing slower-than-expected sales and is seeking additional forbearance on the debt. The newspaper writes the plant has also cut its workforce.