San Antonio-based Mission Solar Energy is eliminating its solar cell production line and 87 jobs along with it, as the company faces direct competition from manufacturers in China.Mission Solar officials confirmed the job cuts shortly after employees were notified on Friday morning. Company spokeswoman Laura Waldrum told the Business Journal that the plant will remain open and continue to make solar power modules.
Meanwhile, instead of making the solar cells for those modules in San Antonio, Waldrum said Mission Solar will buy them from an undisclosed company in Asia, where costs are much lower. Waldrum said the “recalibration” will enable the company to stay competitive in the long run.”It was a very difficult decision, but we’re committed to staying here in San Antonio and we’re committed to the community,” Waldrum said.
A worker adjustment and retraining notification, or WARN, notice was filed with the Texas Workforce Commission and is expected to be made public on Monday. Waldrum said the laid off employees will be kept on the payroll through Nov. 30 and will then be given severance packages and job placement assistance.The move comes a critical time for Mission Solar Energy, which is ending a production contract to make panels for several utility-scale solar farms commissioned by city-owned utility company CPS Energy. Mission Solar released four new products earlier this month that will enable the company to branch out into lucrative residential and commercial rooftop solar projects.
With several contracts in negotiations, Mission Solar also has promising prospects across the United States and in Mexico. Waldrum said the move to buy solar cells instead of making them is part of a restructuring strategy that enables the company to focus on its main products, bring prices down and stay competitive for years to come.”We remain committed to providing customers with state-of-the-art, high-powered solar modules and to making them here in San Antonio,” Waldrum said.
Originally opened in September 2014, Mission Solar is now considered thefourth-largest manufacturing company in San Antonio. The company’s plant at Brooks City Base in the city’s southside was a critical component of a 20-year power-purchase agreement between CPS Energy and parent company OCI Solar Power. The deal called for CPS Energy to buy 400 megawatts of solar power if the South Korean-owned company physically brought solar industry manufacturing to San Antonio to help create a “new energy economy.”