Solyndra files for bankruptcy, lays off 1,100 workers

The exterior view of Solyndra Inc. in Fremont, Calif., Monday, May 24, 2010. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
August 31, 2011 5:05:08 PM PDT
Workers at Solyndra in Fremont got a jolt today: The solar panel maker is bankrupt and shutting down.

Solyndra was the recipient of a $500 million loan to create jobs in the United States at a time when 95 percent of solar panels were built overseas. It created 158 jobs, but those jobs and 1,000 more are now gone.

It was a surprise when employees showed up for work on Wednesday. The doors were locked and security staff told them to go home. Just yesterday, there was no indication that Solyndra was in financial trouble.

"Everything is fine," said former Solyndra employee Mohammad Qureshi. "Everything was okay. We are busy. We are working so hard."

Solyndra would not go on camera, but it blamed and over supply of solar panels, falling prices and tight credit for its problems along with foreign competition. Solar industry analyst Eric Wesoff with Greentech Media disagrees that foreign competitions are to blame.

"The real pressure is global growth in the solar market," Wesoff said. "It's not just foreign competition. There are successful American companies in solar, so I think that's searching for blame."

Solyndra developed a high-profile when President Obama visited the facility one year after the Department of Energy loaned the company $535 million to build a new, automated assembly line. The money came from federal stimulus funds.

Out of the loan, $519 million has been spent as of the company's latest fling with the government at the end of June. Just over half of the money went to the Redwood City-based Rudolph & Sletten, the contractor that built the plant.

Solyndra has cost taxpayers over $500 million, an investment the government hoped would create jobs and foster a clean energy future.

"It's alarming," said Mike Dorsey with Venture Capital Firm, "but I don't think it's a setback for the solar industry. Truly, when you look at one loss, even one big loss out of a portfolio of loans and loan guarantees that the Department of Energy has made, any venture firm on Sand Hill Road would be lucky to have one loss and all the rest winners."

Solynda says it hopes to sell the company or license its technology as part of the bankruptcy process. However, analysts tell ABC7 News Solyndra's technology won't integrate well with what other solar companies are doing.

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