BP Solar laying off 320 from Frederick facility
Other workers not affected; company also drops pursuit of stimulus grants
BP Solar announced Friday it is laying off 320 manufacturing workers at its Frederick facility. There are approximately 430 total workers at the facility.
BP Solar, a subsidiary of British energy giant BP, is discontinuing its silicon casting, wafering and cell manufacturing at the Frederick plant, company officials said in a statement. Workers in the technology, sales and marketing, human resources and other departments will not be affected, said spokesman Peter Resler.
"This was a difficult decision and we deeply regret the impact it will have on our employees and the community," CEO Reyad Fezzani said in the statement.
BP Solar also has plants in China and India. The company laid off 140 assembly line workers at the Frederick facility last year.
Richard G. Griffin, director of the Frederick Department of Economic Development, said his primary concern is for the 320 laid-off workers and their families.
"We stand with Frederick County Workforce Services to be ready to assist those individuals with retraining and re-employment," Griffin said.
BP Solar has been a "longstanding employer" in Frederick, he said.
"We are sad to see the manufacturing component of the facility close, but we wish BP Solar well in their future endeavors and we're hopeful they will maintain their research and development and management components in Frederick," Griffin said.
Laurie Holden, director of Frederick County Workforce Services, said she is "sick" over the news of the layoffs and hopes the laid-off employees will get in touch with her agency so "we can get them on the road to a new opportunity as soon as possible."
Holden said her agency has set aside six days to meet individually with the employees to make them aware of its resources, including seminars, career coaching and counseling services, training and educational scholarships, and a career resource lab, where residents can search for jobs.
BP Solar was previously seeking $13 million in federal stimulus grants including grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Maryland Energy Administration to expand its technology and product development activities in Frederick.
"At the time we applied we did feel that we could upgrade our technology capabilities," Resler said.
However, due to rapid changes in the global solar market, company officials felt that even with the grants, BP could no longer make its technology operations competitive and is no longer pursuing the grants, he said.