Amonix’s fab closure stokes PV political fires20. July 2012 | Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By: Jonathan Gifford
In the highly politicized debate surrounding renewable energy in the U.S., the closure of concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) manufacturer Amonix’s Nevada fab has cause much debate among lawmakers.
Amonix produced its CPV modules at its 150 MW fab in North Las Vegas. The fab itself was short-lived, with a ground breaking ceremony having been held at the site in October 2010. Blaming intense competition and weak demand, Amonix has now ceased operations and laid off some employees. The Las Vegas Review-Journal now reports that the company began selling equipment from the fab, in an online auction, on Wednesday of this week.
Political controversy surrounding the company’s failure stems from federal tax credits and a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant the company was awarded for research and development in 2007. The Las Vegas Review-Journal says that the company accessed a $15.6 billion DOE grant and $6 million in federal tax credits. In a statement released yesterday, Anomix claims that it had been unable to access the tax credit.
Responding to the political controversy surrounding Anomix’s closure, the U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released a statement saying that the issue should not be used for political gain. "Amonix has been supported with great hope by an array of private investors as well as Republican and Democratic policymakers, who all understand our need to invest in this growing industry."
Amonix CEO Brian Robertson died in a plane crash last year, and defenders of the company and the government support it received have claimed that the company was unable to recover from the loss of leadership. These supporters include Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who was present at the Amonix fab ground-breaking ceremony, who has also highlighted the bipartisan report the company had received in the past.
In a comment posted on the English newspaper the Daily Mail’s website, an individual claiming to be a former Amonix employee has dismissed the claim that Robertson’s death was involved in the company closing its manufacturing operations. The statement, in part, reads:
"I worked here and was one of the 250 plus people let go in January of 2012. In November there was a period where we didn't work for nearly three weeks! All of this occurred weeks before their CEO died in a plane crash, and that’s what they’re trying to pin this on."
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