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OptiSolar looks to a brighter future in SLO

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OptiSolar, one of a handful of companies seeking to harvest solar power in San Luis county, announced Jan. 9 that it had laid off nearly half its workforce, almost 300 people. The Hayward-based solar company said, however, that the layoffs were not likely to affect the proposed 500-megawatt solar farm slated for the Carrizo Plain.

A spokesman from OptiSolar, Alan Bernheimer, said that the company was putting some of their expansion plans on hold, but hopes to continue developing a solar manufacturing plant in Sacramento. The company makes photovoltaic solar panels and then creates large-scale farms, selling the power to companies such as PG&E. Bernheimer said under their current contract with PG&E, they are not obligated to provide power until 2011. OptiSolar is currently seeking a conditional use permit with the county.

“It shouldn’t have any effect on the project [in the Carrizo,]” Bernheimer said. “We never expected to start construction there until 2010.” 

Bernheimer said that with the economic downturn, many avenues of capital simply dried up. Still, he seemed at ease with the pace and sureness of the Carrizo project.

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