Amid reports on December 30 that newly-hired employees have been given pink slips by First Solar, Inc., many remember this scene five months ago when an estimated 300 people showed up at a park in Quartz Hill on Saturday, July 30 to apply for construction jobs. The building had to be underway by September 30 in order for the company to qualify for about $680 million in federal loan guarantees for the AVSolar Ranch 1 project in Western Antelope Valley. [Mountain Enterprise photo]
NEENACH, FAIRMONT, CA (Sunday, Jan.1,2012 at 5 p.m.)—The report has been confirmed by a worker at the facility. He said about five vans of workers, filled with 12 workers per van, were assembled and told to go home for an indefinite period. He estimated the crews were comprised of about 96 people and that abotu 50 were sent home.
NEENACH, FAIRMONT, CA (Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011 at 11 a.m.)— First Solar, Inc. of Arizona reportedly handed out an unexpected "Happy New Year" present to nearly half of its Western Antelope Valley workers Friday, Dec. 30: pink slips.
The company has been running paid advertisements in The Mountain Enterprise lavishing praise on itself for providing jobs in the area, and quoting workers’ comments about how important the jobs have been to their lives. The building activity is principally around 170th Street West in the Neenach, Fairmont area. The facility is known as AV Solar Ranch One or AVSR1.
The Antelope Valley Press reported today that nearly half the work force was laid off on Friday. They quoted a foreman as saying this was a plan of management for several months.
The Mountain Enterprise has been reporting about the unexpected reversals experienced by the solar industry following a massive investment by China in conventional solar technology, dropping cost of supplies from $400 to $40 a kilo. Meanwhile, however, companies such as First Solar, Inc. have received permits from the Los Angeles and Kern County governments, as well as massive loan guarantees from the federal government, based largely on the industry’s promises to bring increased jobs to economically depressed regions.
As reported by GreenTechSolar.com on September 30: "The 230-megawatt Antelope Valley solar farm finalized its loan and was sold to Exelon. According to the First Solar press release, ‘AV Solar Ranch One will employ First Solar’s FS Series 3 PV Module and deploy its tracking system on a portion of the facility.’ This is likely the Raytracker product, acquired by First Solar in January for approximately $40 million."
Reportedly, First Solar,Inc. is handling the AVSR1 construction for Exelon.
A press release December 21 by Exelon reports the U.S. Department of Justice is clearing the path to finalize a merger between Exelon and Constellation Energy: "The boards of directors of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC) and Constellation Energy (NYSE: CEG) have agreed to combine the two companies in a stock-for-stock transaction. The merger creates the number one competitive energy provider with one of the industry’s cleanest and lowest-cost power generation fleets and one of the largest commercial, industrial and residential customer bases in the United States." The solar portion of the merged company will be based in Baltimore.
The Mountain Enterprise will continue to report with updates on these issues.
This is part of the December 30, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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