$6M loan aimed to help stabilize SolarWorld

'We really need conditions of fair play in the US market'

Hillsboro's SolarWorld facility, May 2017 (Hillsboro Tribune)
Hillsboro's SolarWorld facility, May 2017 (Hillsboro Tribune)

HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) — The lenders to the parent company of SolarWorld provided a $6 million loan this week to the financially troubled manufacturer, an effort to help stabilize the operations at the Hillsboro solar panel manufacturer after hundreds of layoffs over the past few months.

But emotions at the facility remain mixed. On one hand, there is hope the infusion of cash will help, but sadness over the layoffs of co-workers.

SolarWorld spokesperson Ben Santarris told KOIN 6 News the layoffs have been happening for a few months. “It is bittersweet,” he said.

The company is also selling a warehouse and some nearby land “to generate a total of double-digit million dollar cash infusion that will support our business plan going forward.”

“We really need conditions of fair play in the US market,” Ben Santarris of SolarWorld

But Paula Mints, the chief analyst for SPV Market Research, said that “when you lay people off and when you sell assets, you are definitely hurting.”

Mints said Solar World’s money troubles are fallout from international competition. The company and other US manufacturers are finding it impossible to compete with much cheaper imports flooding the market, mainly from Asia.

“People are being affected. They are being affected all up and down the value chain in the US,” Mints said. “Not in other countries, by the way, but in the US.”

SolarWorld is waiting to find out if a complaint filed with the International Trade Commission is upheld. It would impose tariffs on imports that, Santarris said, “could help” level the playing field and prevent further bleeding.

A worker at SolarWorld, as seen on their website May 23, 2017
A worker at SolarWorld, as seen on their website May 23, 2017

“We really need conditions of fair play in the US market,” he told KOIN 6 News.

The ITC is expected to make its rulings in the fall — and that’s when SolarWorld will know a lot more about its future.