SoloPower finalizes $197M federal loan guarantee
By Erik Siemers, Business Journal staff writer
Business Journal staff writer
SoloPower's loan guarantee from the federal government received final approval, the company announced Friday. SoloPower will start building in North Portland soon.
SoloPower Inc. on Friday said it has finalized a $197 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The San Jose, Calif.-based maker of flexible thin-film solar modules said the backing will help finance the $340 million manufacturing operation it expects to start building in North Portland next month.
The company had previously received conditional approval for the loan guarantee back in February. SoloPower CEO Tim Harris said via e-mail that the deal is now contractual, providing a “much higher level of certainty.”
The DOE program isn’t a direct loan, but an agreement that the federal government will cover the borrower’s debt obligation to its lenders in the event of a default. It’s designed to let the federal government share the financial risk on projects built around technology that hasn’t yet been proven the market.
SoloPower has also been approved for a $20 million loan from Oregon’s State Energy Loan Program and more than $125 million in venture capital. The most recent round came in June, when the company disclosed in a regulatory filing that it raised $15 million of a nearly $44 million round.
In January, SoloPower announced plans to invest $340 million to build a manufacturing facility in Wilsonville that would eventually grow to 300-megawatts of production capacity and one day employ up to 500 people.
But plans to create a new urban renewal district for the proposed plant drew opposition that threatened to delay the project. So in May, SoloPower announced it would instead build the plant in North Portland’s Rivergate Industrial District.
While the Wilsonville plan was built around a single building — a former Nike Inc. distribution center — Harris on Friday said the North Portland operation will be spread across two smaller buildings, though the size of the investment, capacity and work force will be the same.
The two Portland plants and a San Jose manufacturing operation that’s being expanded will give SoloPower a total of 400 megawatts of capacity, provide 450 full-time jobs and 270 construction jobs.
@ErikSiemers | firstname.lastname@example.org | 503-219-3418
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