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MEMC slashes jobs, production amid weak solar demand

Solar panel and chip maker will cut 1,300 jobs and idle production at an Italian polysilicon plant


December 9, 2011
by The Canadian Press with files from Matt Powell

ST. PETERS, Mo.—MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. is eliminating about 20 per cent of its work force and cutting production as it deals with weak demand in the solar energy and chip markets.

The company, which makes silicon wafers for solar panels and semiconductors, will cut about 1,300 jobs, including about 250 in the U.S.

It’s idling a polysilicon plant in Italy,  limiting production at other facilities and consolidating its solar materials and SunEdison business units.

MEMC says the moves will better align the business to market conditions and increase cash flow.

In July, the company announced its solar subsidiary, SunEdison, and manufacturing partner Flextronics announced 400 jobs at a Newmarket, Ont. plant.

The facility produces 280 mega-watt photovoltaic (PV) solar panels with 60 per cent domestic content, the minimum required for green-energy projects to receive incentives from the FIT program under Ontario’s Green Energy Act.