The collapse of solar module prices that began in the second half of 2016 has not been kind to PV makers, particularly those in the United States and Europe. In the last few months, the toll this has taken has become more obvious, with PV Crystalox closing its U.K. ingot production and SolarWorld announcing shutting down its multicrystalline silicon business.
As the latest casualty, last night Suniva announced that it was laying off an unspecified number of workers across all areas of company operations, and at its facilities in both Norcross, Georgia, and Saginaw, Michigan. Suniva has not stated how many workers are affected except that it represents a “significant reduction in force”, however a notice filed with the State of Georgia indicates that 131 workers were let go in the state yesterday.
Additionally, MLive is reporting that the company’s plant in Saginaw Township is closed, citing Township Manager Rob Grose.
Suniva’s cell plant and headquarters are in Georgia, and the company additionally hosted 200 MW of annual module production in Michigan. The layoffs represent a rapid shift in direction for the company, which had planned as recently as last fall to increase its cell capacity to 400 MW in Georgia and held a ribbon cutting for a manufacturing expansion at its facilities last December.
Only three months later, Suniva ordered a “temporary” shutdown of its Georgia plants, with sources telling the Atlanta Business Chronicle that vendors were not being paid.
Suniva is citing Asian manufacturing overcapacity and an “ongoing influx of foreign imports” as factors driving down domestic U.S. prices and leading to the market difficulty that it finds itself in. This is a curious position given that Suniva was acquired by Chinese cell maker Shunfeng, which is part of Hong Kong-based clean energy mogul Chen Kin Ming’s Asia Pacific Resource Development Investments, in early 2016.
Suniva declined to provide additional details to pv magazine, such as the total number of workers it was letting go. Additionally, no WARN Act notice has been filed in Michigan, however Suniva did file for retraining assistance for 20 workers in February through the state.
Update: This article was updated at 4:05 PM EST on March 30, 2017 when the State of Georgia informed pv magazine of the number of workers laid off in that state. The article was updated again at 5:30 PM EST to include information on the closure of Suniva’s module plant in Michigan.
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This is disheartening and somewhat confusing. I spoke last October with someone high up at the Atlanta (Norcross) facility, and he was very optimistic.
I was a sales consultant for a company that relayed to us that Suniva was 100% American, but then after I made a sale and visited the install, there was a label, “Assembled in Korea.” I wonder if any of those workers will be part of this layoff….hmmm I seriously doubt it.
I plan on visiting the Atlanta facility later this year, as they are one of our chief vendors. Hopefully things will be on the uptick by then.
I was an employee at Suniva Norcross. It seemed like things were going well with the expansion project going on. Lots of contractors and construction. Then one day…blindsided by a layoff! Then come back for a week and laid off again… this time indefinitely! Then we get word that we are closing the doors. We were kept in the dark until 3/29/17 about the fate of our jobs. We were never offered severance or anything. We all have families to take care of and there was no notice that we would have no job until the date mentioned above. It is sad because the company had a great chance to be successful if they would have hired actual manufacturing level upper management instead of money hungry bankers and investors who were just in it to flip and get out with a huge profit
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I was a long-time employee of Suniva in Norcross, GA. After spending $100 million on a brand new factory located at the corporate complex (the ribbon-cutting was just last December), in March we were abruptly told that the company wouldn’t even be able meetbits payroll obligations for the month and the recently-opened new factory which was supposed to be the largest solar panel manufacturing facility in the United States, was abruptly shut down. On March 29, 131 employees (myself included), were handed out walking g papers. The layoff has been devastating for myself and my family.
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