Sponsored by Oregon Business

State sticks with solar as price plummets

| Print |  Email
Articles - October 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011

1011_StateSticksWithSolarA flood of cheap Chinese imports is swamping the global market for solar panels, driving down prices dramatically, but Oregon officials say their investments in solar manufacturing remain solid.

“We’re feeling confident about the decisions that we’ve made as a state and the companies that have chosen to move here,” says Business Oregon Director Tim McCabe. “Everyone we’ve given an incentive to is still here and growing.”

The state has invested millions in SolarWorld in Hillsboro, Solaicx in Portland and Sanyo Solar in Salem. The latest recruit, California-based SoloPower, received a $20 million loan from the Oregon Department of Energy and $29 million in tax breaks to establish manufacturing in North Portland with plans to employ 500 people within five years. But those local subsidies are minuscule compared to the $30 billion the Chinese Development Bank lent to Chinese solar companies in 2010. Prices for solar panels have dropped by more than 30% over the past year as Chinese companies have established dominance.

SolarWorld executives have long railed against what spokesman Ben Santarris calls “the swamping of the markets by state-sponsored competitors.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) backed that charge with a sharply worded Sept. 8 letter to President Obama, warning that, without action, the U.S. solar industry and its  jobs “may disappear.”

SolarWorld’s 1,000-employee Hillsboro facility is the largest solar panel factory in North America. The company recently shut down its production plant in California and cut 186 workers. That move came days after the news that the much-hyped solar manufacturer Solyndra would declare bankruptcy — the largest of three summer bankruptcy filings by U.S.-based solar manufacturers.

Even hard-core solar supporters such as Glenn Montgomery of the Oregon Solar Energy Industry Association acknowledge that “the news in the industry has not been good.” But Montgomery and McCabe say it is important to consider specific technologies and business plans rather than assuming that all American-based manufacturers are in trouble. McCabe notes that two of the three companies that went bankrupt this summer tried and failed to get state support for a move into Oregon, only to fail to clear due diligence tests. The companies that did receive state support “have hit every target we’ve given them” for jobs and production, McCabe says.

Ben Jacklet

 

More Articles

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...

Money Talks

March 2015
Saturday, February 21, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Will community banks survive the digital age? Three CEOs peer into banking's crystal ball.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

March 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Employment in Oregon is almost back up to prerecession levels — and employers are having to work harder to entice talented staff to join their ranks. This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project showcases the kind of quality workplaces that foster happy employees. 


Read more...

Power Players

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

A new energy-sharing agreement sparks concerns about independence and collaboration in the region's utility industry.


Read more...

Banking Perspective

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Craig Wanichek, president and CEO of Summit Bank.


Read more...

10 Twitter highlights from #OR100Best

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
100bestBY OB STAFF

Oregon Business held its  22nd annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon celebration Thursday night in the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...

Announcing the date of the 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon event

News
Friday, March 20, 2015
OBM-100-best-Green-logo-2015-250pxwBY OB STAFF

Join us to celebrate and network with Oregon’s best green workplaces!


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS