Obama-lauded solar company shuts down Nevada plant

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

Just a few years after receiving $21.5 million in federal subsidies and praise from President Barack Obama, Amonix Solar has announced it will be shutting down a solar panel facility in Las Vegas because of “challenging” pricing for solar panels and low demand, according to a statement.

“We looked at several options and were really hoping that we could keep the North Las Vegas manufacturing facility, but it is not economically possible,” the company said in the statement, which was emailed to BusinessWeek last Thursday.

Even though Amonix didn’t receive a loan under the same program as the failed solar company Solyndra, the company was offered a U.S. tax credit of $5.9 million and received a $15.6 million Energy Department grant in 2007, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

The company plans to restructure its operations and vacate the Nevada facility by August.

In a 2010 speech, President Obama cited Amonix as a success story made possible by tax credits.

“Now these manufacturing tax credits are already having an extraordinary impact,” Obama said before a handpicked audience of UNLV students. “A solar power company called Amonix received a roughly $6 million tax credit for a new facility they’re building in the Las Vegas area,” he said.

“That’s just one of over 180 projects that received manufacturing tax credits in over 40 states,” Obama continued.

Amonix’s troubles come as an increasing number of high-profile green energy companies — including Solyndra, Beacon Power and Ener1 — have either declared bankruptcy or disclosed financial troubles after receiving tens of millions of dollars in federal subsidies.

However, Amonix was never even able to use the $5.9 million tax credit it was offered because the company wasn’t profitable enough, according to Businessweek.

“Amonix plans to restructure its operations to build a successful long-term future,” Rhone Resch, chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in the emailed statement. “Amonix has been supported with great hope by an array of private investors as well as Republican and Democratic policy makers, who all understand our need to invest in this growing industry.”

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