Starting today, REC Silicon will execute a layoff affecting nearly 40% of its current workforce in Moses Lake, Washington. This layoff will impact approximately 100 employees, and the company says it is a direct result of the on-going solar trade dispute between China and the United States. Due to this on-going trade dispute, the company has not been able to access its critical market in China since 2014. This has caused successive reductions in REC Silicon’s operations in the United States.
REC Silicon has decided to reduce its production at Moses Lake to approximately 25% of total production capacity. REC Silicon says the actions taken today will help maintain the company’s liquidity, its ability to meet financial obligations and maintain the company’s capability to resume manufacturing operations when access to China’s polysilicon markets is restored.
“REC Silicon’s management regrets today’s lay-off of our highly-skilled colleagues,” the company said in a press statement. “We have done all we can to avoid today’s action, but we have no choice while the China market remains closed. It is a tremendous injustice that the hard-working Americans, who have made REC Silicon the polysilicon industry’s technology leader and one of the most competitive producers in the world, are now losing their jobs. REC Silicon can out-compete its foreign rivals, and we can do it from our manufacturing locations here in the United States. We simply need fair access to the China market.”
REC Silicon invested $1.7 billion to construct a leading solar grade polysilicon production facility in Moses Lake, Washington, in 2010. At its peak in 2011, REC Silicon generated $1 billion in annual revenues from its operations in the United States and provided approximately 900 high paying jobs. Approximately 95% of REC Silicon’s revenues are generated from sales in markets outside the United States. As a consequence of the on-going solar trade dispute with China, REC Silicon has executed successive layoffs to preserve its operations in the United States. After the layoff today, the company will continue to employ approximately 400 people at its facilities in Moses Lake and Butte, Montana. As a direct result of the solar trade dispute, REC Silicon’s workforce has declined by a total of 500 jobs since 2011. During the same period, the company’s revenues have declined by over 70% to $272 million in 2017.
REC Silicon’s fluid bed reactor (FBR) production facility in Moses Lake, Washington produces the lowest unsubsidized cost solar polysilicon in the world. Because REC Silicon employs a highly cost competitive manufacturing technology, the company’s products are competitive without trade protection.
“President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer committed to pursue a resolution of the AD/CVD measures imposed by the Government of China on U.S. polysilicon. There has not been a resolution nor any re-opening of the China market to REC Silicon,” said the company in a press statement. “It is now absolutely urgent that the U.S. government takes steps to re-open the China market for U.S. polysilicon production to avoid further job losses, avoid the loss of U.S. technology leadership, to preserve this important part of the solar energy supply chain in the United States, to allow REC Silicon to re-start production, and most importantly allow us to re-hire our skilled and dedicated workers.”
REC Silicon’s markets for semiconductor grade polysilicon and silicon gas products have not been impacted by the solar trade dispute. REC Silicon’s operations in Butte, Montana, will continue to support these markets.
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