SoloPower Inc., which makes thin-film solar cells, won final approval on Friday for a $197 million federal loan guarantee to expand its San Jose headquarters and open two manufacturing facilities in Portland, Ore.
The loan guarantee, from the U.S. Department of Energy, will help SoloPower ramp up to mass production.
Together, the three facilities will be able to produce enough solar modules each year to generate 400 megawatts of electricity. A megawatt is a snapshot figure, roughly equal to the amount of electricity used by 750 homes at any given instant.
SoloPower's expansion to full-scale manufacturing hasn't been easy.
In January, the company announced plans to open a single factory in Wilsonville, Ore., lured there by an $11 million financial incentive package from the city. The U.S. Energy Department gave preliminary approval to the loan guarantee in February, throwing its support behind the Wilsonville project.
But some of the city's residents objected to the city's incentives. According to the Oregonian newspaper, those incentives included tax rebates as well as a $4 million payment to renovate a former Nike distribution center that SoloPower would have occupied. Critics began a petition drive that would have subjected the deal to a public vote.
Seeing an opportunity, Portland officials wooed SoloPower with their own incentive package worth $17.9 million, according to the Oregonian. A state loan and tax credit will give the company another $40 million.
"SoloPower is bringing exactly the kind of new jobs Oregon needs," Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said in a prepared statement Friday.
Together, the two new facilities in Portland and the expanded one in San Jose will provide 450 permanent jobs, as well as 270 construction jobs. The company plans to start building the first Portland facility next month.
SoloPower makes thin, flexible solar modules that use a blend of copper, indium, gallium and diselenide rather than silicon to generate electricity.