North Las Vegas solar panel plant lays off 200 workers

One month after losing its chief executive officer in a fatal plane crash, Amonix is laying off about 200 people from its solar panel manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas, a company spokeswoman confirmed late Wednesday.

"We are retooling to redeploy our next generation utility-scale CPV (concentrated photovoltaic) solar power system," Kelly Rice said in an e-mail. "During this time, we will ramp down our facility to about 100 jobs, and will ramp back up based on the manufacturing build plan in second half of 2012."

Seal Beach, Calif.-based Amonix announced in 2010 it would hire about 300 workers after signing a five-year lease for 214,000 square feet in the Golden Triangle industrial park, near Pecos and Craig roads.

Most of the jobs were on the factory floor, from machine operators to engineers. Other positions included office, accounting and supply, with pay ranging from $12 to $14 an hour for manufacturing jobs, and from $50,000 to $100,000 annually for managers.

The company’s North Las Vegas plant is a joint venture with Singapore’s Flextronics Industrial. Amonix founder and chairman Vahan Garboushian had estimated capital investment of $15 million in the plant, including equipment, construction and tenant improvements.

Amonix received $5.9 million in federal funding from the Recovery Act’s Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit to build the plant, which opened to much fanfare in May with a ribbon-cutting attended by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.

It was supposed to generate an overall economic impact of $608 million, including $118 million in annual payroll, $10 million in local tax revenue and $2.5 million in state tax revenue, according to the Nevada Development Authority.

Established in 1989, Amonix raised $129 million in private funding from Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, and $25 million from Goldman Sachs and MissionPoint Capital. It also received a $15.6 million grant from the Department of Energy Solar American Initiative.

In December, Amonix Chief Executive Officer Brian Robertson died in a plane crash in Pennsylvania.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

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