A federally-funded solar production facility in Nevada has ceased operations, according to a former employee at the facility. The closure could prove troublesome for the company’s political allies.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the North Las Vegas production facility for solar panel manufacturer Amonix has not operated since May. The plant was backed by $21.5 million in federal green energy “investment” – in the form of a grant and a package of tax credits – and touted at length by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The Review-Journal reports:
Rene Kenerly, a former material and supply manager at Amonix, said the plant has been idle since May 1, when he was laid off. At its peak, the plant had ramped up to about 700 employees working three shifts a day to produce solar panels for a utility customer in Amarosa, Colo., he said.
“I don’t think they had a lot of training,” Kenerly said. “There were a lot of quality issues. A lot of stuff was coming back because it had some functionality issues.”
The Review-Journal was unable to confirm with Amonix that it had ceased operations at the facility. Scribe’s attempt to confirm the report likewise went unanswered.
If solar panel production at the facility has permanently ceased, it could prove awkward for Reid, who touted the “permanent green jobs” that Amonix’s Nevada business supposedly represented. The company laid off 200 employees in January.
In May of 2010, Reid attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility. “Amonix is taking full advantage of a tax credit from the Recovery Act and is helping Nevada lead the way in producing clean energy,” Reid said at the time. “I’ve pushed hard to establish a clean energy industry in Nevada that will diversify our economy and protect us from future economic downturns.”
Amonix would be the second Nevada-based – and Reid-backed – green energy project to hit dire financial straits in recent weeks. Nevada Geothermal, which received a $98 million stimulus loan guarantee, announced in a recent SEC filing that “material uncertainties exist which cast significant doubt upon the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”
Like Amonix, Nevada Geothermal received significant support from Reid before obtaining taxpayer backing. According to the New York Times, Reid “pressur[ed] the Department of Interior to move more quickly on applications to build clean energy projects on federally owned land and urg[ed] other member of Congress to expand federal tax incentives to help build geothermal plants, benefits that Nevada Geothermal has taken advantage of.”