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Business news: J.R. loved his shot of solar power fame


Larry Hagman may have perfected the image of the ruthless oil baron as J.R. Ewing on “Dallas,” but in real life he was fan of solar power and a spokesman for SolarWorld, the German-based solar panel company with a large manufacturing plant in Hillsboro.

Hagman, who died on Nov. 23, owned one of the largest private solar arrays in the world and participated in several philanthropic solar projects, including the electrification of hospitals in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

He also appeared in a number TV spots for SolarWorld with the slogan “Shine, baby, shine,” a play on the oil industry’s rallying cry, “Drill, baby, drill.”

“We are grateful to Larry Hagman for his commitment to building a solar world,” Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas, said on Tuesday. “His charisma and example encouraged thousands of people to go solar. We will miss him, but we will always remember his talent and his dedication to the promise of solar energy.”

SolarWorld company shakeup

SolarWorld is still coping with the turmoil with the turmoil in the solar power market.

Despite having won its U.S. trade complaint against illegal Chinese dumping practices, the company recently reduced its American work force by around 6 percent. The company blames the large supply of under-priced Chinese products already in the country for the forced cuts.

The number of positions actually eliminated could be as high as 37 or as low as 25 at the Hillsboro plant, depending on how many employees take other jobs offered to them there.

Most of the positions to be eliminated are administrative, the company says. SolarWorld employs more than 930 people in Oregon and California.