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SolarWorld To Expand, Add 200 Jobs At Hillsboro Plant

Solar panel manufacturer SolarWorld is expanding its Hillsboro plant in Oregon and adding around 200 jobs.
Courtesy of SolarWorld
Solar panel manufacturer SolarWorld is expanding its Hillsboro plant in Oregon and adding around 200 jobs.

Solar panel manufacturer SolarWorld announced Thursday it will be expanding its plant in Oregon, adding a new production line and around 200 jobs in Hillsboro.

SolarWorld U.S. President Mukesh Dulani said the expansion represents "a great turnaround" for the company, which has been fighting to maintain its market share amid fierce competition from Chinese manufacturers.

"Many people did not think SolarWorld and U.S. solar manufacturing could survive," Dulani said. "After all, solar manufacturing hasn't exactly been a growth industry lately in the United States. But today we stand here to say to our workers and our children, our second generation, our third generation, our kids and our grandkids that solar manufacturing is here to say and we will fight very hard to make sure that it does."

Dulani credited U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., for helping his company fight what he called unfair competition from China in an ongoing trade battle. SolarWorld has brought trade cases against the Chinese government for illegally "dumping" Chinese solar panels in U.S. markets by selling them below production costs.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced preliminary tariffs and anti-subsidy duties against China and Taiwan in response to the trade cases. Final determinations are expected in December.

Wyden attended the announcement in Hillsboro. He also attributed SolarWorld's expansion to the success of trade cases against China.

"What we are seeing today is a textbook case of how enforcing America's trade laws can help create family wage manufacturing jobs," he said. "Chinese solar producers were bankrolled by the Chinese government, so they overproduced, they dumped solar panels into the U.S. market at prices that were simply below the cost of production. And it was that cheating that cheated Oregon workers and Oregon's families."

The $10 million expansion in Hillsboro will add a new solar panel production line to increase the plant's capacity by 40 percent. The company hopes to expand more in the near future.

Dulani and Wyden also noted that growth in the market for solar energy in the U.S. is also a factor in SolarWorld's decision to expand.

SolarWorld is a German company with its U.S. headquarters in Hillsboro, where it employees 700 people.

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Cassandra Profita