Monday, August 15, 2011

Evergreen Solar to File Bankruptcy, Close Plant in Michigan

Unless we get to work on creating a strong national energy policy and tweak some trade agreements, we could see more of this in the future. Hope it's not too late to stop it from happening.

Evergreen Solar Inc. (ESLR), a maker of electricity generating solar panels, filed bankruptcy with plans to sell itself at an auction in order to pay creditors owed $485.6 million.

Investors who hold more than 70 percent of the company’s convertible senior secured notes have agreed to act as the so- called stalking-horse, or initial bidder, in a proposed auction for Evergreen’s assets, including new technology to make solar wafers at lower cost, Evergreen Chief Executive Officer Michael El-Hillow said in court papers today.

The company, based in Marlboro, Massachusetts, blamed the bankruptcy on increased competition from government-subsidized solar-panel makers in China and the failure of the U.S. to adopt clean-energy policies.

And yes, this means closing the Midland plant as well, even though as of late May the company still had high hopes that a change in strategy would strengthen its remaining operations here in the US. Evergreen had 30 employees in Michigan.

The company will fire about 65 people in Europe and the U.S., including at its plant in Midland, Michigan, which will be closed. A factory in Wuhan, China, built with a $33 million investment by the local government, will remain open while the company negotiates with its Chinese investors.

Wonder if Dow would be interested in that technology...

And another, 8/16: Germany-based Solon Corp., located in Tucson, AZ, announced that they will cease manufacturing panels in America, although they will keep a sales office here for developing utility scale projects. 60 jobs lost.

Solon SE has solar-module manufacturing operations in Germany and Italy. As part of a recent move to restructure overall operations, the parent company said it would look to low-cost sources in Asia.


Alcombright said the company assembled a skilled, loyal local production workforce that builds top-quality products.

But with the global price of solar modules dropping from about $800 per 225-watt panel in 2009 to about $300 per panel now, Solon's relatively small plant can't compete, he said.

"As the price falls, we're having trouble penciling out the economics of this from a business standpoint," he said. "The real issue for us is our scale. We're a 60-megawatt (annual capacity) plant competing against multi-gigawatt plants."

Solon has two module suppliers in Asia, Alcombright said.

Do we want green manufacturing jobs or not? If so, we must address this issue.