SoloPower to 'suspend operations' at North Portland plant

To describe the difference between the weight of SoloPower panels vs. the weight of traditional, silicon-based solar panels, CEO Tim Harris said it would be the difference between having a small Gulfstream jet sitting on the roof vs. a Boeing 777.

SoloPower plans to lay off 29 workers from its Portland facility.

SoloPower Inc. said Monday morning it would suspend operations at its North Portland facility.

The announcement came in a notice to the state's Oregon Dislocated Worker Unit revealing the company would terminate 29 workers. The list includes 10 engineers, eight operations workers, five administration employees, four maintenance workers and one executive and IT specialist.

The layoffs will take effect June 17.

The company jettisoned 61 workers in San Jose, Calif., earlier this month. The company had announced a restructuring plan in late February that had aimed to “position ... the business for long-term growth consistent with commencement of its first commercial shipments.”

SoloPower had said the reduction aimed to help the company move from the research and development phase to commercial manufacturing and sales.

Portland had attracted SoloPower in 2011 through several state and city incentives.

"For us, it's premature to speculate on what the announcement means," said Shawn Uhlman, a Portland Development Commission spokesman. "We're going to talk to the state and continue to work with Business Oregon (the state's economic development arm) and the Oregon Department of Energy and see what comes next."

Uhlman, whose agency helped back half of a $20 million federal loan — SoloPower received only half of it — added that PDC believes it needs a spectrum of investments within the cleantech sector.

"While a particular investment might not be doing well at a given time, the architecture and engineering and green building pieces are doing very well," Uhlman said. "It needs to be clear that this is a diverse industry."


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