You may have heard that Hayward, Calif.-based OptiSolar announced last week cuts to 290 staff, nearly half its workforce. It’s just the latest round of job shedding in the solar and wind industries over the past few weeks. What I’m surprised to hear is that OptiSolar had more than 600 employees — that’s incredibly fast growth for a company that until a year ago was operating in stealth mode. This seems to be a common theme with these industry cuts: companies that invested in rapid expansion just a few months ago are forced to take an abrupt step backward.
Peter Carrie, who heads up OptiSolar’s Canadian solar development operations, said the 18 or so employees in Canada haven’t been affected by the cuts and the projects planned for Sarnia and Petrolia are still going ahead as planned, though possibly a little slower. OptiSolar has more than 200 megawatts worth of projects on the go in Ontario, each broken up into 10-megawatt chunks according to the rules of the province’s standard offer program. So far about 1 megawatt has been installed using solar PV modules from the company’s Hayward manufacturing facility. Part of the job cuts — 105 — have to do with OptiSolar’s ambitious plans to open a new manufacturing facility in Sacramento that, at full capacity, would have been capable of churning out 2,000 solar panels a day. That facility was to employ about 1,000 people but the company has decided to suspend, for now, the high-volume manufacturing plant.
For background on OptiSolar, check out this previous post.