Report: Intel spinoff SpectraWatt to lay off workers, shut down solar cell operations

In a blow to homegrown U.S. solar manufacturing, Intel spinoff SpectraWatt will be laying off most of its workforce and possibly closing down operations, according to published reports. The crystalline-silicon PV cell manufacturer will let more than 100 employees go starting in March of next year and may shutter its less-than-year-old factory located in IBM’s Hudson Research Park in Hopewell Junction, NY.

SpectraWatt issued a short press release, which said that “this action is undertaken in response to deteriorating market conditions resulting from a harsher-than-usual European winter causing a large dropoff in demand for solar cells. The company continues to pursue alternatives aimed at improving its current situation and hopes to reverse this action.”

The news evidently caught local officials by surprise, as the company had been recently ramping production at its 60MW facility and hiring more employees.

"You could have knocked me over," John MacEnroe told the Poughkeepsie Journal. He is president of the Dutchess County Economic Development Corp., which less than seven weeks ago hailed the company with a Business Excellence Award.

Charles North, president of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, was quoted as saying, "I'm certainly disappointed, and, actually, I'm shocked."

SpectraWatt, which has its R&D center in Hillsboro, OR, has received more than $91 million in private investment from Intel Capital and other firms. It has also garnered over $8 million in various local, state, and federal grants and incentives.

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