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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 26, 2011 10:49 AM. The previous post in this blog was Oil slick behind Jefferson Smith widening. The next post in this blog is Just call them Tree-Met. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

SoloPower: 170 jobs? or 100?

In addition to the big question about SoloPower -- whether Portland's highly subsidized new business "partner" is actually going to survive -- there are smaller, but still important, questions. Such as exactly how many employees it's going to have at its Marine Drive facility.

According to the O, it's 170 immediately, and more to come:

The only safe bet is that the chaotic solar market, with plunging raw-material prices for silicon cells, will look different by May, when the factory's first line is scheduled for production. The initial 75-megawatt plant in the Rivergate Industrial District is expected to begin with 170 workers and expand to as many as 500.

But that doesn't square at all with what SoloPower's swearing to in a city land use proceeding, in which it's trying to get by with less-than-standard amounts of parking. We reported on that late last month, and here's the money quote from the city:

The tenant (Solopower) plans to provide 112 parking spaces (including 100 vehicle spaces, 5 carpool spaces accommodating 2 people per vehicle, 6 accessible spaces and 1 van accessible space). The facility will operate with two-12 hour shifts, with a maximum of 100 employees on site at one time, during two shift change periods each day.

We're reminded of a line from the old Perry Mason show on TV: "Were you lying then, or are you lying now?" Or maybe we're missing something.

Comments (25)

"The only safe bet is that the chaotic solar market, with plunging raw-material prices for silicon cells"

Niiiiiiiice, the Chinese own about 85% of this market. You can either look forward to:
1) More tax subsidies to keep it open
2) A price abotu 20% higher than the Chinese with no real commensurate tech advantage.

Your tax dollars at work.

I predict jobs for a couple dozen bankruptcy lawyers and their associates, paralegals, legal assistants and other support staff.

I'd like to know when the residents of Portland were asked if they'd like to be the bank for "green" startups, many of which fail? How many residents even know this is going on?

"Niiiiiiiice, the Chinese own about 85% of this market".

Of course, China relies on other sources of dirty energy to use at home rather than solar energy, because solar energy makes no economic sense for them.

Like the methamphetamine that keeps flowing here from Mexico, our friends in the East have found yet another feel good only product Americans will waste their money on.

Oh, come on, Grumps - it's just added into your water/sewer bill.

Gibby - and it's highly likely that the Chinese have subsidized not only solar manufacturers, but many other industries in their pursuit of economic world domination.

If they run the plant 7 days a week and employees work about 4 shifts on average you would have 170 total employees while only having 100 on campus at a time.

14 shifts x 50 ppl = 700
4 shifts x 170 employees = 680

I propose a JBB pool on the date of their Chapter 11 filing.

Agreed cc - put me down for December 2013.

I could have made the math clearer. Basically, if you account for days off, their numbers are accurate.

100 shifts/day x 7 days/week = 700 shifts/wk
700 shifts / 4 shifts/employee = 175 emp

Take a peek at the three recent 2011 Solopower News and Events announcements. http://www.solopower.com/news.html

In January - it was Wilsonville with 170 new jobs and employment of 500 people when facility is completed.

In February it was still Wilsonville with 500 direct employment on completion.

In August it is Portland - but now there are three facilities. One in California and two in Portland with 450 jobs spread across the three facilities.

I think Jack assumes it's an identical population going to work there every day. Otherwise I can't figure it out.

(I don't have any clue how many people will work there — I just can't figure out how Jack can figure out the number of employees from what he quoted.)

As I say, maybe I'm missing something. Maybe not all of those 170 will be full-time. Maybe they will come and go gradually at the start and end of a shift, so that there's never more than 100 people there at any given time.

Or maybe they're telling different stories depending on whom they're talking to.

Jack, you are missing something: The actual answer is in your header.

SoloPower will employ 170 people to start; 100 at the plant and 70 to figure out how they can compete profitably to hire more.

Yeah, and on their web site they announce they're moving to their 26 MW production facility. Odd, no mention of how much they have shipped. Evergreen Solar (The Boston folks) proudly announced their shipments. And specs for the panels. Even Solyndra showed their installations and specs. I'm not hearing any squeaky snakes.

I hope I'm wrong about them, but to manglulate two old chestnuts into one: "The road to hell is paved with better mousetraps."

Jack, the thing to me is that these are 12 hour shifts, it seems to be pushing it to assume that everyone there is going to be working 60-hour weeks on average (if it's only operating 5 days a week), or 84-hour weeks if it's running over the weekend. You just need to assume a 40-hour work week and all of a sudden the numbers look fine. Nobody needs to be working part-time. Your analysis (which, if I understand, is simply assuming that the number of people there between shift changes is the number of employees they will have) simply gives us the lower limit of workers they could possibly hire for the statement you're zeroing in on to be true.

I could very well be missing something too, but this one seems clear as day. I suppose it's possible that they will only employ a hundred, but don't you think that requires some pretty uncharitable and frankly unlikely assumptions? Can you explain your thinking here? What jumped out at you?

(Sorry, they announced they were moving to their new volume production facility in January 2008.)

There are two shifts a day. That's 14 shifts a week if they go 7 days a week. If at shift change both shifts overlap and there are only 100 cars at most, no shift can have more than 50 people in it. Assuming that each worker works four shifts a week, no more than 100 workers could work in any 4-day period, say Sunday through Wednesday. If another 70 workers come in, they could work only Thursday through Saturday -- not full-time -- unless the parking story is fabricated.

My 100 maximum number of employees assumed a five-day workweek for each worker. Given the 12-hour shifts, maybe that's wrong. I'm still not seeing, though, how one gets past 100 full-time jobs and never has more than 100 cars in the lot.

You're not just left with Thursday, Friday, Saturday simply because the other group worked Sunday-Wednesday. You can have the second group work the next Sunday. These kinds of places do rolling/rotating shift patterns all the time. And the 7-days-a-week thing seems all but certain to me. From what I understand of the manufacturing processes these types of places use, you can't just turn things off. They're 24/7 plants.

Looks like we don't need to guess:

SoloPower Careers

This position will start as an 8 hour shift, Monday through Friday, and transition into a 12-hour rotating shift (6 AM to 6 PM)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shift_work

Look at the 12 hour shifts, particularly the ones for manufacturing.

My read is that to limit 100 at shift change, would be 50 per shift. To staff it 24/7 there would be 4 crews. A total of 200 employees possible.

Yes, but if there's 200, they can't all work 4 shifts a week and still keep the car load below 100. Maybe each worker does 4 shifts one week (48 hours), 3 shifts the next (36 hours)? That averages out to a 42-hour week, I guess.

Or as I say, maybe they're just lying to one audience or the other. Stranger things have happened.

Jack, I still don't see why they couldn't work a rolling "4 on, 4 off", similar to what is shown in dman's link. You're looking at this too much like these are 9-5 office jobs instead of shift work at a plant.

You can get 1,000 employees into 100 parking spaces if they're all part-time. How you get 170 full-time employees into 100 parking spaces when shifts overlap is not as clear. I guess you could have 50 people per shift, and they work 4 days in a row. But that's an 8-day workweek, which I hadn't thought about.


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