Solopower holds open house in North Portland

Solopower holds open house in North Portland

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by Joe Smith, KGW Staff

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kgw.com

Posted on September 27, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 27 at 8:23 PM

PORTLAND - Solopower, Portland's newest entry into the solar field, held an open house Thursday to show off it's latest solar panel technology for clean energy.

This is the first large scale manufacturing plant for the San Jose, California-based company.

The massive 225,000-square-foot plant on N. Marine Dr in Portland is turning out flexible, solar panels.

The primary market is for industrial and commercial buildings because the panels are lightweight and can be easily installed on big box commercial roofs, unlike heavier traditional glass panels.

Solopower's grand opening comes as the solar panel industry has taken some hits and misses recently.
 
Solarworld in Hillsboro has been fighting Chinese companies for unfair competition by dumping cheaper products in the United States. And California-based Solyndra folded, leaving taxpayers on the hook for $535 million in loans. 

Incentives are a big reason Solopower decided to come to Portland.

The U.S. Energy Department promised a $197 million loan guarantee, the city of Portland $5 million. Oregon is providing a $10 million loan and $20 million in tax credits.

Mayor Sam Adams has been a cheerleader for Solopower since there was a chance of it locating in Portland.

"We didn't even write a check, ours is simply a loan guarantee and our $5 million collateral is all this equipment, which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars," said Mayor Adams.

So far, there are 60 employees on board. The promise is to increase that number to 450 by 2015.

"You have to take advantage of people who worked at Intel or other places. They come in here and understand exactly what we're doing," said Solopower CEO Tim Harris.

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