Orion Energy Systems Inc. presents an “enormous economic opportunity in Wisconsin” through the development of green-collar jobs and energy efficient technologies, according to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, who celebrated Earth Day at the energy management company’s new state-of-the-art technology center.

Orion’s technology center, at 2210 Woodland Drive, Manitowoc, Wis., stands as a beacon to energy-efficient innovation and will serve as the expanding company’s headquarters and operations center as well as a national destination for educational institutions and businesses to learn about energy efficiency.

Orion’s facility was celebrated today with a grand-opening event attended by more than 500 guests. Attending today’s events were Doyle, representatives from U.S. Congressman Tom Petri’s office, representatives from Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold’s office, Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels and other local and state officials.

“Orion has been our shining light,” Doyle said in front of a standing room only crowd of more than 100. “It is very fitting that we are celebrating Earth Day at Orion. This isn’t just about doing the right thing for the planet. This is about creating a lot of really good jobs while doing the right thing for the planet. And that’s as good as it gets — creating good jobs around a high purpose.

“Orion is a company whose great work is now synonymous with energy efficiency and this is the best it gets. This is an example of what we have to continue to do here in Wisconsin.”

Orion is a leading power technology enterprise that designs, manufactures and deploys energy management systems, consisting primarily of high-performance, energy-efficient lighting systems, controls and direct renewable products for the commercial and industrial sector.

Orion’s innovation and technology recently won the praise of President Barack Obama, who applauded Orion in a White House speech promoting clean energy, the creation of green collar jobs and the importance of energy efficiency. Obama challenged Orion and other clean energy companies to “mount a historic effort to end once and for all our dependence on foreign oil.”

Orion is poised to meet President Obama’s challenge, using its technology to help the U.S. overcome electrical grid capacity challenges by delivering permanent distributed load reduction. Orion’s technology centers on its integrated system that includes Orion’s high-intensity fluorescent Compact Modular™ lighting platform, the InteLite® wireless control system and the direct renewable Apollo® Solar Light Pipe.

When deployed in industrial and commercial facilities, the integrated system permanently reduces energy consumption, freeing electrical capacity for constrained utilities, and decreasing greenhouse gases, which are the byproduct of electricity generation.

“It’s a great day for Orion. Earth Day is a very fitting day to open this facility and we like to consider ourselves a poster child, of sorts, for Earth Day,” Orion President and CEO Neal Verfuerth said. “It’s the duty of each and every one of us to conserve energy and help the environment. Orion has made that a little easier for businesses throughout North America. We’ve developed technology that saves energy, reduces the impact on the environment and saves our customers money — more than $514 million.”

Orion’s 70,000-square-foot technology center sets the standard for facilities striving for energy efficiency. Dubbed the building of the future, the facility incorporates a state-of-the-art shared loop heating and cooling system to minimize energy use, Orion’s proprietary lighting system — including its Apollo® Light Pipes that harvest daylight using no electricity — and will utilize its southern exposure to capture thermal energy to decrease electricity consumption.

The technology center includes an auditorium for up to 90 people, catering to customers, community groups and school classes that Orion will host, promoting and encouraging energy efficiency.

The technology center also is designed for optimum employee interaction, with an open architecture of the facility’s second and third floors, where most of the office employees will be located.

“In these tough economic times, it is truly an honor to be standing here today looking at a company that only a few years ago had one employee and now has hundreds of employees,” Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels said. “It’s is a great honor to be here today to showboat this wonderful facility and the great things that will come out of it.”

Orion has deployed its energy management systems in 4,387 facilities across North America. Since 2001, Orion technology has displaced more than 423 megawatts, saving customers more than $514 million and reducing indirect carbon dioxide emissions by 4.3 million tons. Orion’s technology was recently internationally recognized with a Platts Global Energy Award for the single most innovative and sustainable green technology of 2008.