First Solar, the country’s biggest manufacturer of solar panels, has decided to cut 450 jobs from its Toledo plant as part of an effort to do away with 1,600 jobs worldwide.
This throws another wrench into plans for a 20-acre solar field to be installed at the Wellington Reservation on Jones Road. The discovery of a bald eagle’s nest on the reservation’s grounds in March first put the project on hold.
Contingency plans following the discovery of the nest were to create two or more partial sites in the village that would have amounted to the original 20-acre scope.
Proposals to install a solar field were first brought before the village in 2009 and even got to the point of drafting a memorandum of understanding in 2015 with SolarVision, a Dublin-based energy company.
Interim village manager Mark Rosemark said the closing of First Solar gives Wellington good reason to be cautious on the project moving forward.
“This is a very big change to their workforce and the way they do business,” he told village council Monday. “There could still be more opportunities in the future, but for now I think it would be wise of us to wait.”
The Toledo plant employs approximately 1,400 people. First Solar attributes the cuts to higher production costs in Ohio as opposed to overseas.
The company still plans to conduct some research and development in Toledo and said it wants Ohio to continue to be its “center of innovation.”
“We were already in sort of a holding mode on this until our new village manager comes on,” said Wellington mayor Hans Schneider. “This is valuable informational news but it doesn’t really change much at this time. We stepped away from that project because the location is not viable with the eagle’s nest.”
He said the village is still very much open to future solar proposals.
“We’re working on creating a list of possible alternate locations, but aren’t making any moves yet,” he said.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Village officials’ plans to put a 20-acre solar field at Wellington Reservation on Jones Road continue to be impeded. First was the discovery of a bald eagle’s nest on the property in March. Now, First Solar, the country’s largest solar panel manufacturer, has decided to cut its workforce at its Toledo plant by 450 as part of 1,600 job cuts worldwide.