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First Solar CEO to be honored as Executive of the Year

March 23, 2009

Global warming, dependence on foreign oil, and the Obama administration’s stimulus plan have all helped put a major focus on the need for alternative energy. On March 26, one of the leaders in creating and promoting affordable solar energy will be honored as Executive of the Year by a national group of prominent business executives who advise the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

The Dean’s Council of 100 chose Mike Ahearn, chief executive officer of First Solar, Inc., for its 26th Annual Executive of the Year Award to recognize his work at the helm of one of the world’s largest solar module manufacturers. First Solar is a multibillion-dollar, publicly held company, which is headquartered in the Phoenix area and employs more than 4,000 associates on three continents.

First Solar is the lowest-cost solar module manufacturer in the industry and continues to rapidly reduce the cost of solar electricity. The company recently announced that its manufacturing costs fell below $1 per watt, a major milestone in the solar industry.

“Building a world-leading technology company in an emerging, but undeveloped market is a real challenge,” says W. P. Carey School of Business Dean Robert Mittelstaedt. “Mike Ahearn exemplifies the best in business, moving us into the future with the development of new technology to benefit society as a whole. First Solar’s products are cost-effective and based in sustainability, which is good for investors, consumers and making our natural resources last for future generations.”

Mike Ahearn has been recognized nationally, including as a finalist for 2007 MarketWatch CEO of the Year. He will speak about the growth of First Solar and the renewable energy industry when he accepts the Dean’s Council of 100 Executive of the Year Award at an event on Thursday, March 26. The luncheon at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

In honor of First Solar’s achievements in sustainability, the event will have a renewable theme. Most of the menu ingredients will be harvested from local, organic Singh Farms on the morning of the event. Arizona State University partners with the Scottsdale farm to provide landscaping waste from its Tempe campus for the farm’s organic compost mix, which is then returned to ASU as fertilizer for campus gardens and landscapes. The partnership promotes sustainability, diverts waste from landfills, and saves the university more than $20,000 in dumping fees. Also, the Arizona Biltmore will donate all food waste from the Executive of the Year event back to Singh Farms for compost.

This luncheon is part of the Economic Club of Phoenix (ECP) speaker series. ECP was founded by the Dean’s Council of 100 as the preeminent Arizona forum for the exchange of ideas about business and the economy. For more information about the club, go to Seating for the Executive of the Year event is limited. For reservations, contact Tifanie Moore at (480) 965-7223 or