Abound Solar cuts 180 permanent, 100 temporary jobs

LOVELAND — Abound Solar, the recipient of a $400 million federal loan guarantee to expand solar-panel production, announced Tuesday it will stop making its first-generation thin-film photovoltaic modules in a move that included the temporary layoffs of about 180 people.

Another 100 temporary workers also were laid off.

Additionally, the company said it would put off opening a new factory in Indiana. As many as 1,200 people were expected to work at that plant.

Mass production, it said, was expected to resume by year’s end, once testing is complete on its next-generation, more efficient modules. It did not specify how many of those laid off would be brought back to work. Abound’s facility is located along the Interstate 25 Frontage Road near Firestone.

“While this is a difficult move with regards to temporarily reducing our workforce, we know that accelerating the introduction of our next generation module will bring significant benefits to our customers and allow us to create even more jobs in the future,” said Craig Witsoe, president and CEO of Abound Solar.

“Current market conditions are challenging for all U.S. solar manufacturers, but the long-term winners will be manufacturers of the lowest cost per watt, most reliable systems. By focusing our resources to accelerate scale-up of our next generation high efficiency technology, we will sustainably lower total system costs for our customers, increase our own profitability and grow U.S. jobs and energy security.” 

Abound Solar’s new high-efficiency “AB2” 85-watt module represents a 12.5 percent solar efficiency, it said, about 20 percent better compared to the 10.5 percent efficiency rating on the line it suspended.

In late 2010, Abound announced it has closed on a $400 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund expansion of the company’s manufacturing capacity.

In a statement announcing the layoffs, the company said it has been “working closely with the DOE, which has led to the release of approximately $70 million in loans under that guarantee.”

“Abound is in regular contact with the DOE and the DOE continues to be supportive of Abound and its technology,” it said.

Its guarantee came from the same DOE program that financed Solyndra, the California panel maker that went bankrupt.

Formerly called AVA Solar, Abound Solar is a spin-off of research at Colorado State University.

Further information about the announcement can be found here.

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