CPS Energy: OCI Solar layoffs not a deal-breaker

Half of employees laid off at Ercam Trackers

Inside Edition
Inside Edition

CPS Energy said the layoffs of half the workforce at Ercam Trackers, owned by OCI Solar Power, do not violate an agreement made to supply solar energy.

In January 2012, a deal was announced between OCI Solar Power and CPS Energy to build solar farms in and around San Antonio that would provide 400 megawatts of power annually- enough to power 70,000 homes.

Part of the deal included creating 800 local jobs.

Now, more than two years later, Ercam has laid off half of its 115 employees because of company restructuring, according to OCI Solar President Tony Dorazio.

Dorazio would not agree to an on-camera interview.

However, a source within Ercam tells KSAT 12 that employees were told Thursday that the layoffs would cease and some laid-off employees would be rehired.

"CPS Energy does not propose to tell the OCI consortium how they need to manage, but OCI Solar does have obligations to the contract that they made with us," said Lisa Lewis, vice president of corporate communications and media relations for CPS Energy.

To date, OCI is meeting those obligations, according to Lewis, and the layoffs do not violate the terms of the deal because the 800 jobs are expected to be filled by 2017.

"As long as they meet their 800 jobs requirement, we don't propose to tell them what types of jobs those are," said Lewis. "They don't have an obligation to us to have this many of this kind of job and that many of that kind of job."

CPS has agreed to pay OCI for 25 years of solar power once the necessary solar farms are built.

Two of the five planned farms have been completed.

Lewis says CPS was made aware of the layoffs at Ercam Trackers in advance, but it is not a deal-breaker.

"And to date, they're about halfway to the job creation commitments they've made," Lewis said. "And they are on track."

In December 2012, the City Council voted to give OCI Solar $380,000 in city incentives over three years.

Rene Dominguez, the city's economic development director, said the layoffs do not affect the incentive deal because the money was to go toward moving the headquarters of OCI Solar to downtown San Antonio and creating roughly 80 jobs there.

So far, the city has paid OCI $175,000 in incentives.

Mayor Julian Castro's office tells KSAT 12 Castro has no knowledge of the layoffs.

The office of Councilwoman Ivy Taylor, District 2, said the same. Ercam lies within District 2 boundaries.

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