SoloPower Lays Off Workers, to Move Headquarters to Cut Costs

SoloPower Inc., a closely held maker of thin-film solar panels, has “undertaken restructuring measures” and is seeking new investors after laying off employees, according to Chief Executive Officer Robert Campbell.

The company, based in San Jose, California, also plans to relocate its headquarters to Portland, Oregon, the site of its manufacturing facility, and has “sold off some surplus or redundant assets,” Campbell said today by e-mail. He declined to say how many employees were laid off.

SoloPower deposits a compound made of copper, indium, gallium and selenium, known as CIGS, onto rolls of flexible materials. The approach produces solar panels that are lighter than conventional crystalline-silicon solar products, according to its website.

Solar panel prices have plunged, pushing some CIGS thin film manufacturers such as Solyndra LLC into bankruptcy. Others such as Miasole Inc. have been acquired. Nanosolar Corp. plans to auction its California manufacturing assets Aug. 13, according to a statement yesterday from Heritage Global Partners, which is managing the sale.

Solar panel prices have fallen about 57 percent since January 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The U.S. Energy Department in 2011 offered SoloPower a $197 million loan guarantee to expand manufacturing capacity. The company hasn’t used any of that federal funding, Campbell said. Its Oregon factory received a $20 million state loan, the company said in December 2011.

SoloPower laid off 29 workers at the site on June 17, according to a notice from Oregon’s Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development.

The facility is operational “at reduced output,” Campbell said.

SoloPower’s investors include Hudson Clean Energy Partners LP, Convexa AS and Crosslink Capital Inc.

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