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First Solar announces 450 layoffs at Perrysburg Township plant


First Solar Inc. said today it will eliminate 450 jobs at its Perrysburg Township plant as it shifts toward producing a next generation solar panel said to be more efficient and cost effective.

The Arizona-based company announced a major restructuring effort Wednesday that hinted there could be job losses at the local facility, though officials had initially declined to discuss plans for the Perrysburg Township plant beyond what was revealed to investors during a conference call.

This afternoon, officials confirmed First Solar would start the local job cuts next week.

Globally, First Solar said it plans to eliminate 1,600 of its 6,000 jobs globally as it fights to deal with steep price declines for its panels. The company says the pricing issues are are driven largely by Chinese manufacturers and an international trend toward lower power purchase agreement pricing.

Based on the most recent employment figures the company has shared with The Blade, about 1,000 workers would remain at the site.

First Solar plans to retool much of the Perrysburg Township factory to build the company’s Series 6 module. That line is expected to be operational in 2018.

In a statement, the company said the plant will remain an important facility in its global footprint.

“First Solar’s Perrysburg manufacturing facility has always served as both a benchmark for our global high tech production, as well as the leading edge for developing and scaling up production of new technology and new products, and has been a critical factor in the company’s continued success. We will continue to invest in the Perrysburg facility, and look forward to it leading the way in production of this new product.”

It isn’t initially clear whether any of those 450 employees might be brought back once production of Series 6 modules begins.

The company said about 200 employees will continue making Series 4 thin-film solar panel modules during the changeover. The rest of the jobs are in research development, supply chain sourcing, customer support, IT and other functions.

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