SoloPower CEO on why it's not Solyndra

SoloPower CEO Rob Campbell on Tuesday said he’s hopeful his company will only have to suspend operations in Portland, and not close it entirely, as it continues searching for new investors.

“What we’re doing is continuing to look for new investors to help support us while we ramp up this new facility,” Campbell, who became SoloPower's CEO in March, told Sustainable Business Oregon.

SoloPower is a San Jose-based solar energy startup that received several million dollars in support from the state of Oregon to set-up a manufacturing plant in Portland. But on Monday, the company has notified the state that it as of June 17 it will lay off 29 workers and suspend operations at its North Portland manufacturing plant.

“The need for renewable energy is here to stay,” he said. “It’s just navigating through these bumpy times and giving (investors) the confidence that this is a solution that has a home.”

Solopower makes thin-film solar panels for rooftops.

Even before this week’s news, the company had drawn comparisons to Solyndra, a California solar startup turned cautionary tale that spiraled into bankruptcy after receiving $535 million in loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Much like Solyndra, SoloPower is also a beneficiary of the federal loan guarantee program.

Campbell said that’s where the comparisons stop.

“It’s like an apples and oranges comparison with Solyndra,” he said. “We’re both (photovoltaic) companies, we’re both new, but the technology is totally different and we’re addressing a market need.”

SoloPower has received several million in loans from the Oregon Department of Energy, and a $20 million Business Energy Tax Credit from the state, from which it generated $13.45 million in cash in December.

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