WASHINGTON - Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), released the following statement today in response to news that First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR) is restructuring its operations to reflect market conditions. The restructuring includes scaling back manufacturing operations in Europe and Malaysia and reducing its global workforce by 2,000 employees, including about 120 employees in the U.S.:
"Today's announcement from First Solar demonstrates the impacts that result from inconsistent policy. Policy certainty is critical for all energy markets, and the solar industry is no different. With drastic policy changes in the leading European markets, First Solar has chosen to focus its activities in areas that provide a higher level of policy stability and product demand, including the U.S., First Solar's largest market.
"Due in large part to the federal investment tax credit that is in place until 2016, the U.S. is on track to become one of the world's largest solar markets. In 2011 alone, the industry grew by 109 percent over the last year in the middle of tough economic times.
"The U.S. has an opportunity to encourage companies large and small to expand their businesses and create jobs through smart, consistent policy. Steady, equitable government policy for all energy technologies, including solar, will help ensure industry leaders such as First Solar continue to focus on the U.S. market, boosting local and national economic growth, creating jobs and enhancing energy security."
FACTS ABOUT THE SOLAR INDUSTRY
- The U.S. solar industry just completed its best year ever, growing 109 percent with nearly 1,900 megawatts of new capacity installed. This year, that number is expected to reach close to 3,000 megawatts installed;
- Employment in the industry has more than doubled since 2009, with more than 100,000 Americans currently employed in the U.S. solar market;
- Increasing economies of scale and intensified competition has led to dramatic cost reductions that have made solar accessible and affordable to more Americans than ever before;
- Unlike many other nations, the U.S. enjoys one of the most resilient and diverse solar markets, in which all three major market segments - residential, commercial, and utility - are growing;
- First Solar's projects are continuing to drive the utility-scale market in the U.S. in line with its business plan and the U.S. remains First Solar's largest market;
- There are more than 5,600 solar energy companies operating across the U.S. today, in all 50 states.
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA and its 1,000 member companies are building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. www.seia.org.