Company cites Chinese competition as one of the contributing factors to the layoff decision

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - SolarWorld announced Monday, April 22, it had filed a mass layoff notice for all employees at its Hillsboro location.One week after SolarWorld announced that it would be operating "as usual" despite its parent company filing for insolvency, Solarworld's Hillsboro manufacturing plant is now facing massive layoffs or a possible closure in the next two months,

On Monday, the company filed a mass layoff notice with the state. Firms are required by law to provide 60-day notice of mass layoffs or closures to allow workers time to seek out new employment. SolarWorld spokesperson Ben Santarris said the move is to give the company options as it weighs the future of SolarWorld's North American arm over the next few months.

Santarris said the move is connected to the insolvency filing by SolarWorld's German parent company earlier this month. The notification was for all employees. SolarWorld employs some 800 workers in Hillsboro, and is the largest manufacturer of crystalline silicon solar panels in the Western Hemisphere.

"We're required to [file layoff notices] in times of uncertainty to keep our options open," Santarris said. "In the meantime, we're sticking by the original statement that we're operating and maintaining operations, working with supplier and vendors to determine what is the right size for the organization moving forward."

The announcement is in the wake of rapid growth in residential use of solar energy in the Hillsboro area over the last decade. SolarWorld cites expansion of Chinese competitors as a major reason for why the company has been struggling over the last several years.

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