TOLEDO, OH – The biggest U.S. manufacturer of solar panels is cutting a quarter of its jobs worldwide and will halt production at its only North American plant.

First Solar Inc. said Wednesday it faces challenging market conditions and must retool operations to begin making a more efficient, thin-film solar panel that can provide three times the wattage of its existing products.

Company CEO Mark Widmar said in a conference call with investors and industry analysts that he expects the company’s new line will be operational by the second half of 2018.

The Tempe, Arizona-based company said it is phasing out its current Series 4 solar panels and is scrapping plans for a Series 5. It will cut 1,600 jobs worldwide, about 27 percent of its work force. Associated Press:  Read More