BP Solar warned state regulators Monday that it will close what remains of its Frederick operation and lay off 58 employees, starting this fall.

The company's decision to shut the solar-power facility, cutting research and development jobs as well as sales and marketing positions, came after it relocated the manufacturing operation there overseas. BP announced in March 2010 that the site would lose 320 manufacturing jobs as a result.

The remainder of the facility will close by March of next year, with layoffs beginning in October, said a BP Solar spokesman, Pete Resler. About 80 people work at the facility, but the company expects to relocate 20 or so to other locations, particularly Houston, he said.

Resler said BP Solar is shifting away from selling solar modules through distributors and will focus solely on developing large solar projects, a move that will require fewer employees.

"That precipitated this change in Frederick," he said.

Laurie Boyer, director of the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, said the closure seemed inevitable once the manufacturing left.

"It was cheaper for them to move the manufacturing piece of it outside the United States, and this facility here in Frederick was definitely built as a manufacturing site," Boyer said. "So once they shut that operation down, we had anticipated that at some point it was going to be closing completely. We're certainly disappointed to see it go."

jhopkins@baltsun.com

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