SoloPower plant 'ready to go'
By Erik Siemers
Business Journal staff writer
SoloPower Inc. has confirmed that it will invest up to $340 million and bring as many as 500 jobs to a new manufacturing plant in Wilsonville.
Oregon’s State Energy Loan Advisory Committee on Thursday recommended the state Department of Energy sign off on a $20 million loan to SoloPower, a San Jose, Calif.-based maker of thin-film solar energy modules.
The vote in Portland came after SoloPower CEO Tim Harris gave a presentation about the company’s technology and its plans for quickly ramping up the proposed plant.
“We’re committed to creating the next great solar company,” Harris said. “This is the next big step.”
Harris said the company is in talks to lease the former Wilsonville distribution center vacated by Nike Inc. two years ago.
SoloPower will initially invest $56 million to build one manufacturing line with a 75 megawatt production capacity within a portion of the facility. About $10 million of that could go toward retrofitting the former Nike site into a manufacturing plant, Harris said.
The first phase will create an estimated 170 new jobs. But subsequent expansions will add three more manufacturing lines, growing the plant’s nameplate capacity to 300 megawatts and its employment to around 500.
All told, SoloPower projects it will invest $340 million in the plant.
“We’re ready to go,” Harris said.
Peter Kesser, SoloPower’s vice president of sales and marketing, said the company has already ordered the equipment for the plant that has the longest lead time. Kesser said the aim is to begin work installing the manufacturing equipment this spring.
“We’re hopeful the line will be up and starting to function by the end of 2011, around November or December,” Kesser said.
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