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California Company Buys Oregon-Based SolarWorld Americas

<p>SolarWorld Americas Inc. is headquartered in Hillsboro, Oregon.</p>

Cassandra Profita/OPB

SolarWorld Americas Inc. is headquartered in Hillsboro, Oregon.

SunPower, a solar manufacturing company headquartered in San Diego, California, has purchased SolarWorld Americas, a solar panel manufacturer based in Hillsboro.

Details of the sale weren't disclosed. In a news release, SunPower announced plans to use the Hillsboro solar panel manufacturing plant to make the solar panels the company currently manufactures overseas, marking the company's "return to U.S. manufacturing."

SunPower officials say they plan on investing in improvements to the Hillsboro manufacturing facility in addition to retrofitting part of the factory to produce SunPower’s P-series solar panels. The company also plans on continuing to produce SolarWorld products, according to its news release.

“The time is right for SunPower to invest in U.S. manufacturing, and SolarWorld Americas provides a great platform for us to implement our advanced P-Series solar panel manufacturing technology right here in our home market," said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. "P-Series technology was invented and perfected in Silicon Valley, and will now be built in SolarWorld Americas’ factory, helping to reshape solar manufacturing in America.”

SolarWorld has been hiring back workers and ramping up production since the Trump administration approved a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels in January.

The Hillsboro facility employed 300 workers at its lowest point, when cheap, competing solar panels from overseas forced SolarWorld Americas to lay off hundreds of employees. After the tariffs on imported solar panels were approved, the company was planning to hire back hundreds of laid-off employees and grow to a staff of 800 to 1,000 workers.

In a statement, SolarWorld CEO Jürgen Stein said the sale to SunPower would produce the “ideal” outcome for his company and its employees.

“We are delighted that SunPower has agreed to inject fresh capital and their industry leading P-Series technology into SolarWorld Americas operations here in Hillsboro,” Stein said. “Our hundreds of long-time employees are excited to be part of this next chapter in SolarWorld Americas’ long history.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, a vocal supporter of SolarWorld and the new tariffs on imported solar panels, reacted to the sale on Twitter, saying he had spoken with SolarWorld after the sale was announced.

“It sounds like the Hillsboro facility will remain open for the time being,” he said. “I’m cautiously hopeful this sale will be good news for Hillsboro and all of Washington County.”

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