“Despite the economic downtown, a number of companies in the Portland Vancouver region have made new investments to expand services and products into the solar and wind turbines arenas. It’s a strategic move that is already benefitting many local businesses,” said Gillian Floren, CEO of Greenlight Greater Portland, which is a member of Regional Partners, and issues in-depth reports on both the solar and wind industries at http://greenlightgreaterportland.com/library/.
State and local governments have played an active role in attracting and developing these sectors through a myriad of incentives and assistance. Oregon’s Governor Ted Kulongoski has worked since 2007 to expand incentive programs and public policies to help jumpstart growth in clean technology and put Oregon in a leadership position. Tax incentives, energy portfolio standards, innovation investments and loan programs have all helped to attract clean technology companies that are creating jobs and bringing revenue to the state.
The strategic focus has triggered growth in production, facilities and employees among a number of wind and solar companies, including:
* SolarWorld – The largest manufacturer of solar panels in the United States, SolarWorld unveiled a 210,000-square-foot addition to its Hillsboro, Ore., manufacturing plant. It is now the only monocrystalline solar manufacturing plant in the United States to produce every phase of solar panel manufacturing.
* Solaicx Inc. – North America’s largest solar energy services provider, MEMC Electronics, recently purchased Solaicx. The now-merged company is planning a $60 million expansion of its Portland, Ore., plant that would triple its capacity and double its workforce.
* Solexant – A developer of thin film photovoltaic technologies that create solar cell efficiency plans to build a $200 million solar manufacturing plant in Gresham, Ore. The company plans to construct a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant that will initially employ 100 before growing to 170 at full production.
* SANYO Solar – The manufacturer of the world’s most efficient solar panels has opened a monocrystalline growing facility in Salem, Ore. The plant, spanning 130,000-square-feet at the Salem Renewable Energy and Technology Center and employing 200 highly skilled workers, represents an investment by SANYO of more than $84 million.
* Vestas Wind Systems – The world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines, this giant established an early stronghold in the Pacific Northwest and strong company growth has allowed it to relocate its North American headquarters to Portland’s Pearl District. A former Meier & Frank warehouse is slated to become home to a new 172,000-square-foot headquarters. The company, now staffed at 400 employees, has committed to adding 100 jobs within the next five years.
* Portland General Electric (PGE) has teamed with Ford to prepare Oregon for electric vehicles. During the next two years, Ford will introduce five electric cars to market. Ford will work with PGE to develop electric car infrastructure and policy, and study driver behavior as the electric cars with lithium ion batteries hit the roads.
The large manufacturers mentioned above have paved the path for many other suppliers and installers at all points on the clean technology supply chain to expand in the region. The resulting growth of these industries also helps existing Oregon companies diversify and expand to meet the needs of this growing market.
Many of the reasons that the more than 85 wind energy and solar power companies are attracted to locate or expand in the region can be found in Portland’s latest Prosperity Index which documents the benefits of conducting business in a state where opportunity and livability collide. Manufacturing is cited in the report as the most likely sector to grow in the next five years, leading more government groups to focus on recruiting solar and wind energy companies, and eventually making Portland a hub for the renewable energy industry.
A report on the Solar Industry in the region is available to download at:
A similar report on the wind energy industry can be downloaded at:
The Portland-Vancouver Regional Partners Council for Economic Development (Regional Partners), includes both private and public economic development professionals from throughout the greater Portland-Vancouver region. The council provides regular opportunities for member networking, facilitates region-wide collaboration by private and public organizations on vital economic development issues and provides member services, including communications. Regional Partners manages federal grant funding from the Economic Development Administration.