First Solar plant delayed further

Facing a tough global market for solar power, Tempe-based First Solar Inc. said Tuesday that it lost $413 million in the fourth quarter and that it would further delay opening its factory in Mesa. The company had already said it would delay the opening from this year to 2013, but officials said Tuesday that the $300 million factory at Signal Butte and Elliot roads would not open until the market rebounds. The factory was expected to bring 600 jobs with its 2012 opening, and potentially many more as it increased capacity over the years. Chief Financial Officer Mark Widmar said First Solar will complete construction on the massive building as planned, move some engineering and office jobs to the Mesa location and use the space to store equipment. But it will not fire up the production lines until they are needed. First Solar expects to run its existing factories in Ohio, Germany and Malaysia at just 60 to 70 percent capacity this year, amid weak demand for solar panels and a glut of panels on the global market, officials said. "Additional actions might be necessary," Widmar said.

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