California-based SoloPower, Inc., said that it would relocate its new planned manufacturing facility from Wilsonville, Oregon to nearby Portland. The new facility is expected to will produce 300 megawatts of thin-film modules annually, when it’s completed.
The incentive package offered to SoloPower by Wilsonville was contested by some residents. “Part of the incentive package included an urban renewal district,” said Mark Wiener, a spokesperson for SoloPower. “Some citizens in Wilsonville oppose urban renewal projects.” They had circulated a petition that put the planned urban renewal district up for a vote this September. The uncertainty that created forced soloPower to look elsewhere, he said.
Still, the facility will be in the same region. Wilsonville is about 20 minutes away from Portland, Wiener said. So the facility will remain in the same job market and will be part of the same transportation system as it would have been in Wilsonville, according to Weiner
“They want to turn dirt as soon as possible,” said Wiener. That could come as soon as this month. Portland’s city council is holding a vote on the incentive package on May 18 and the company already is looking at a number of sites in the Portland area for the plant’s location. “They want to have 100 employees within a year and nearly 500 after that,” he said.
“SoloPower’s decision furthers Portland’s reputation as a desirable location for internationally-known clean technology companies,” Mayor Sam Adams said in a press release. “Working strategically, we’re bringing 481 new, skilled, well-paying jobs to our City.”
The average salary of the jobs created is expected to be $51,000 with additional benefits, according to the mayor’s office. It also will create an estimated 913 construction, indirect, and other jobs.
When the first phase of construction is completed, SoloPower will be able to manufacture 75 megawatts of cells annually. The company will add more manufacturing lines until it reaches 300 megawatts of production capacity. The planned facility is expected to cost a total of $340 million to fully build.
Portland has been investing in clean energy for a while now. It has attracted a number of clean-energy companies, including Vestas, Iberdrola, ReVolt, and Solaicx. The announcement of the SoloPower facility will help ensure the city has even more clean-energy jobs.
Image courtesy of SoloPower