Gallery: SoloPower opens doors to Portland plant

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SoloPower CEO Tim Harris welcomed the media to his company's first full-scale production facility Thursday. He expects the site to be operating two full manufacturing lines when it's fully built out.

SoloPower CEO Tim Harris welcomed the media to his company's first full-scale production facility Thursday. He expects the site to be operating two full manufacturing lines when it's fully built out. 

With grips, grins and one giant pair of scissors, executives and local dignitaries gathered Thursday to officially christen SoloPower's first large-scale manufacturing facility which is located on North Marine Drive in Portland.

Mayor Sam Adams welcomed the San Jose-based company and its promised 450 jobs — SoloPower employs 60 now with a projected workforce of 120 by the end of the year — with an average wage of $51,000.


Behind the scenes at the new SoloPower plant >>

Speaking over the hum of machinery at Thursday's grand opening, Adams said, "That's the noise and odor of people working and innovation happening."

He also used his remarks to cite figures that show the fossil fuel industry gets some $72 billion in incentives from the federal government.

SoloPower will be working under scrutiny as it ramps up its manufacturing facility due to a $197 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy. Other solar companies that received similar guarantees have since flamed out in high-profile bankruptcies, most notably Solyndra which spurred lawmakers in Washington to come up with a "No More Solyndras Act" that aims to end the loan guarantee program.

SoloPower CEO Tim Harris, however, has been adamant in his defense of SoloPower's viability, saying the company's flexible, thin-film solar panels constitute a cost-effective business.

Adams snapped up SoloPower last year with a package of incentives and a loan guarantee of $5 million after officials in Wilsonville balked at their own incentive package due to citizen protests.

Learn more about SoloPower and see scenes from today's grand opening by viewing the gallery of photos by Portland Business Journal Photographer Cathy Cheney.

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