First Solar, Inc. in Business Turmoil as Building Hitches Hit Neenach, Fairmont Area

By Patric Hedlund
Neenach, Fairmont, Carrizo Plains, CA (Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 at 2 p.m.)— New York financial services and NPR are reporting this morning about upsets at First Solar, Inc. (FSLR on the New York Stock Exchange), the behemoth company that has begun building multiple utility-scale solar farm facilities adjacent to the Mountain Communities.They are said to be building two projects in the Western Antelope Valley area of Neenach/Fairmont near 170th Street West and another in the Carrizo Plains area west of Pine Mountain.

Although rich in cash—if its economic filings are to be believed—and the largest U.S. solar company (with $5.5 billion in U.S. government loan guarantees), the company fired its Chief Executive Officer Rob Gillette last week "and cut its 2011 earnings forecast" according to Bloomberg Financial reports. A conference call to investors was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. today in New York.

Behind the scenes, the cause of the shake-up in this domestic solar leader’s economic forecasts is related to what caused the bankruptcy of Solyndra, the Obama Administration’s solar poster child. The problem can be summarized with one word: China.

Massive Chinese  investment in solar facilities have managed to cut the raw material costs for producing traditional polysilicon-based solar panels from $400 to $40 per kilogram. That has shifted the premise for First Solar’s competitive cost strategy using an alternate technology.

Meanwhile, Fairmont Town Council President David Kerr has been sending open letters to First Solar, Inc. personnel about what he says appear to be the company’s failures to comply with their agreements under their county bulding permits regarding safety measures, road access and other concerns. He said the Oso Town Council representatives share these concerns and that First Solar personnel are not responding honestly or in a timely manner to community questions about  hazards to public safety.

More will be reported in next week’s issue of The Mountain Enterprise.


This is part of the October 28, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

Have an opinion on this matter? We'd like to hear from you.