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Satcon's financial demise was caused by increased competition with Chinese companies and decreased demand for solar power installations around the world

It's just not a good week for renewable energy companies. Just one day after A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy, solar company Satcon Technology has now filed for Chapter 11.

Satcon Technology, which is a Boston-based company that develops solar inverters, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today as a result of the poor state of the solar power industry as well as financial earnings. It filed its petitions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

Satcon's financial demise was caused by increased competition with Chinese companies and decreased demand for solar power installations around the world. 

From 2005-2011, the solar company posted annual financial losses. It also reported losses in the first six months of 2012, and announced that it would reduce its workforce by 35 percent in January. Around that same time, Satcon also mentioned closing a factory in Canada.

"This has been a difficult time for Satcon," said Steve Rhoades, Satcon's president and CEO. "After careful consideration of available alternatives, the company's Board of Directors determined that the Chapter 11 filings were a necessary and prudent step, allowing the company to continue to operate while giving us the opportunity to reorganize with a stronger balance sheet and capital structure. Our goal is for Satcon to emerge from bankruptcy reorganization and continue to provide our customers with the quality products that they need."

Satcon isn't the only solar company to file for bankruptcy. In September 2011, solar panel company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy after receiving a $535 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). After that, a line of other alternative energy companies also filed for Chapter 11 after receiving government loans, such as Beacon Power, a flywheel maker for grid efficiency that received $43 million in 2010, and Ener1, an electric vehicle (EV) battery maker whose EnerDel subsidiary won a $118.5 million grant in 2009. 

Just yesterday, EV battery maker A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy. It was reported that A123 was missing loan payments and finally decided to sell its automotive business assets to Johnson Controls, which is a company that optimizes energy efficiency in car batteries, buildings and electronics. The total value of the transaction was $125 million.

Sources: Washington Post, Reuters, Satcon Technology

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RE: Interesting
By danjw1 on 10/18/2012 11:12:00 AM , Rating: 0
The thing that is missing from reports like this one, is that the DOEs loan program is doing better the most hedge funds. There will always be success and failures in any business sector. Also, "demise" is a strong word for a company going into to Chapter 11, it is a reorganization, not a liquidation (Chapter 7).

Of course the media would rather put headlines out about failures, rather than successes.

RE: Interesting
By Jaybus on 10/18/2012 1:56:12 PM , Rating: 2
On what planet is chapter 11 reorganization not a failure? It means either the company acquires financing by very substantially diluting current shareholders (somewhere around a 90% loss), or that the creditors assume control leaving current shareholders with a 100% loss.

RE: Interesting
By Ringold on 10/18/2012 5:49:08 PM , Rating: 2
First of all, results should be GREAT, since the companies benefited from far below market interest rates. That makes a dramatic impact on return calculations. A child should be able to borrow money for almost nothing and make money.

Private equity investors, hedge funds, etc., obviously never loan money at such low rates. Remember, Berkshire invested equity in Goldman Sachs, a proven gold-standard investment bank, for a 10% interest rate, plus other goodies.

Second, those sorts of investors have a different objective; they want the companies they invest in to make money, so that they can make money. The governments objective is to create positive press coverage for itself for re-election purposes, which means the company needn't be highly profitable, efficient, or even necessary in the market place, it simply has to avoid running out of money to pay the (extremely low) interest on loans until some far off date in the future. Private equity, pension funds, they want to create value. Politicians, votes. Totally different.*

Finally, it's been 3 years at most for a lot of these companies. It's at least a couple more years before I think we'll start seeing complete, in-depth analysis.. but for all the reasons above, obviously DOE loans shouldn't be a total disaster. That doesn't mean they worth it, doesn't mean it wont get worse, and doesn't mean there were obvious cases of possibly criminal corruption when the DOE's own people recommended against Solyndra loans, practically pin-pointing the future month they'd go bankrupt... But the White House had a photo op to make.

*: Just double checked. Return on Equity is still there at Yahoo Finance, but no Votes:Loan ratios.

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