Evergreen Solar Forced To Downsize New Plant (ESLR)

evergreensolar Evergreen Solar Forced To Downsize New Plant (ESLR)

Evergreen Solar, the solar panel manufacturer lured to Massachusettsby a generous incentive package from Governor Deval Patrick, may befacing fiscal trouble and downsizing, the Boston Globereports. The plant was built in a repurposed old Army base at FortDevens two summers ago. While its welcome to the neighborhood could have been warmer, the plant has so far been making the state proud with more than 700 local employees.

But now,

Battered by the ailing economy, stiff globalcompetition, and plunging prices for solar panels, Evergreen says itmay be forced to downsize its new manufacturing plant…[I]t expects toburn through most of its $83 million in cash by year-end, and lastmonth it persuaded the state to lend it another $5 million. Its stock,which peaked at nearly $19 per share in late 2007, closed at $1.83yesterday.

Apparently, even though solar panel sales are way up, the company isfeeling the pangs of stiff competition and falling prices in the globalsolar panel manufacturing industry. If the company folds, Gov. Patrickmay face severe fallout for his taxpayer-dollars supported push forEvergreen in the first place. But the company itself is optimistic, andan analyst for JP Morgan thinks that Evergreen’s unique, materials- andcost-efficient manufacturing process for silicon solar wafers may bethe company’s key to survival.

All eyes in the state–and not a few in the solar industry atlarge–will be on Evergreen Solar in the coming months. The company lostalmost $85 million in just the first six months of 2009…a tourniquetneeds to be applied or the company that so invigorated the clean energysector in Massachusetts may find itself in deep disfavor with itsformer supporters.