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Abound Solar set to close doors, file for bankruptcy

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Abound Solar Inc., a Colorado-based solar manufacturer that once hoped to hire 1,200 people in Indiana by the end of 2013, will close its doors and file for bankruptcy because its panels are too expensive to compete with Chinese products, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Abound, based in Loveland, Colo., received a $400 million loan guarantee from the federal government as part of a stimulus package in 2010 and borrowed about $70 million against that guarantee, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Its failure would follow that of Solyndra LLC, which shut down last August after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee from the same Energy Department program.

Abound stopped production in February to focus on reducing costs after global oversupply and increasing competition from China drove down the price of solar panels by half last year.

Calls to Abound executives weren’t returned Thursday.

“When the floor fell out on the price of solar panels, Abound’s product was no longer cost competitive,” Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, said in a statement on the agency’s website.

U.S. taxpayers may lose as much as $30 million on the loan after Abound’s assets are sold and the bankruptcy proceeding closes, he estimated.

“This is not surprising at all,” Anthony Kim, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York, said. “They were trying to sell to a competitive, over-supplied market with limited production. That keeps costs high.”

Abound was awarded the loan guarantee to build two factories to make thin-film panels using cadmium telluride. It completed one plant, in Longmont, Colo., and never began construction on the second, which was planned for Tipton, north of Indianapolis, in the massive, unused Getrag transmission plant.

Less than a year 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.

The Energy Department awarded loan guarantees to four solar manufacturers. The remaining recipients are 1366 Technologies Inc. and SoloPower Inc.

The agency has provided almost $35 billion in loans, loan guarantees and conditional commitments to renewable energy companies. About 35 percent of that is for solar-generating projects, which benefit from falling panel prices, compared with less than 4 percent for solar manufacturers, according to LaVera.

Besides Abound and Solyndra, two other solar manufacturers received loan guarantees. 1366 Technologies Inc. won approval to borrow as much as $150 million to produce polysilicon for solar panels and SoloPower Inc. was awarded a $197 million guarantee to make rolls of flexible solar panels using a copper-indium- gallium-selenide composite.
 

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  • Think differnt
    US companies should focus on branding to creaste more jobs on installation but not on manufacturing. According to PVinsights,http://pvinsights.com/ , solar energy becomes more affordable or cheap. Solar system installation should create more job in the future.
  • Think different
    US companies should focus on branding to creaste more jobs on installation but not on manufacturing. According to PVinsights, solar energy becomes more affordable or cheap. Solar system installation should create more job in the future.
  • thanks Gov Dan
    yet another failed jobs creation project that failed. Way to go Gov.
  • Sad Solar News
    This is very disappointing. America cannot compete in the Solar global market. Very tough times. The idea was good, but the Chinese beat us with cheap labor. On the good side I bought my first solar 100 watt panel a few months ago because prices are dropping. But how can we compete with China??

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  1. Now if he'd just stay there...

  2. Daniel - what about the many US citizens who do NOT follow what the Bible teaches? The Hindus, Jews, Muslims and others who are all American citizens entitled to all rights as Americans?? This issue has NOTHING to do with "What the Bible says..." Keep all Churches separate from State! Pence's ongoing idiocy continues to make Indiana look like a backwards, homophobic state in the eyes of our nation. Can't we move on to bigger issues - like educating our kids?

  3. 1. IBJ should link to the referenced report. We are in the age of electronic media...not sharing information is lazy. Here is a link http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report_July_9_2014.pdf 2. The article should provide more clarity about the make-up of this panel. The commenters are making this item out to be partisan, it does not appear the panel is partisan. Here is a list of the panel which appears to be balanced with different SME to add different perspectives http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=138116?formation_id=189603 3. It suggests a by-pass, I do not see where this report suggests another "loop". 4. Henry, based on your kneejerk reaction, we would be better off if you moved to another state unless your post was meant as sarcasm in which case I say Well Done. 5. The article and report actually indicates need to improve rail and port infrastructure in direct contradiction to Shayla commentary. Specifically, recommendation is to consider passenger rail projects... 6. People have a voice with their elected officials. These are suggestions and do not represent "crony capitalism", etc. The report needs to be analyzed and the legislature can decide on priorities and spending. Don't like it, then vote in a new legislature but quit artificially creating issues where there are none! People need to sift through the politics and provide constructive criticism to the process rather than making uninformed comments in a public forum based on misinformation. IBJ should work harder to correct the record in these forums when blatant errors or misrepresentations are made.

  4. Joe ... Marriage is defined in the Bible ... it is mentioned in the Bible often. Marriage is not mentioned once in the US or Indiana Constitution ...

  5. Daniel - Educate me please: what does the Bible have to do with laws? If the government wasn't in the business of marriage to begin with, then it wouldn't have to "define" marriage at all. Marriage could be left as a personal, religious, or otherwise unregulated action, with no ties to taxes, legal status, etc. Then people could marry whomever they want, and all this silliness would go away. Remember to vote Libertarian in November.

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