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Abound Solar halts production, cuts 180 jobs

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A Colorado-based solar module maker said Tuesday that it was suspending work on its first-generation models and laying off about 180 workers as the company focuses on a more efficient product.

Abound Solar, which hoped to hire up to 1,200 people in Indiana by the end of next year, said it plans to rehire the laid-off Colorado employees in six to nine months, after it retools equipment and manufacturing processes for the new module, Chief Financial Officer Steve Abely said. About 100 temporary workers also would be laid off, according to The Longmont Times-Call.

The Loveland-based company had about 400 employees before the cuts. Permanent workers have received severance packages.

The company received a $400 million loan guarantee from the federal government as part of a stimulus package in 2010 but has drawn less than $70 million, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

When it received the loan guarantee, Abound was projected to create 1,500 jobs in Colorado and Indiana, up from a total of about 360. Abound Solar said it still has long-term plans for the massive, unused Getrag transmission plant in Tipton, north of Indianapolis.

Less than six months ago, Abound officials said the company was on track with its original business plan, which called for adding a huge amount of manufacturing capacity in Tipton in 2012 or 2013 and hiring 900 to 1,200 people. But officials also said they wouldn't start operations in Indiana until the company reached capacity in Colorado.

Abound Solar makes thin-film cadmium telluride solar modules. Its first-generation module performs at a 10.5-percent efficiency. The new module performs at a 12.5-percent efficiency, which would be more competitive with modules from Chinese manufacturers, Abely said.

U.S. solar industry players have been facing stiff competition from companies in China, where the government spent more than $30 billion in 2010 to subsidize its solar industry, according to U.S. energy officials.

Abound's new solar module should save customers money, company officials said.

"While this is a difficult move with regards to temporarily reducing our work force, we know that accelerating the introduction of our next generation module will bring significant benefits to our customers and allow us to create even more jobs in the future," CEO Craig Witsoe said in a prepared statement.

"While the challenges facing solar manufacturers have been widely reported, we continue to believe that supporting innovative companies like this is important to ensuring our nation has the ability to compete for the clean energy jobs of tomorrow," energy department spokesman Damien LaVera said in a prepared statement.

He said the department would keep working with Abound, as it does with all loan recipients, as the company makes changes toward manufacturing a new module.

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  • indiana tax credit
    I believe they received an $11.8 million state tax credit, but the question is: have they used the credit already or is it contingent on the hiring they promised/anticipated? Perhaps an enterprising reporter from the IBJ might inquire
  • State Incentives?
    Did this company receive any state funds as an incentive for creating jobs here?

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    1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

    2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

    3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

    4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

    5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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