Amonix closes Las Vegas facility after receiving US$20 million in federal tax credits

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Another solar company has fallen prey to the weakened economy, and like its predecessors Solyndra and Abound Solar, won’t be going quietly into the Nevada night. A report by the Las Vegas Review Journal has noted that one year after opening its doors, Amonix closed its 214,000 square foot North Las Vegas manufacturing plant, which was subsidized by over US$20 million in federal tax credits and grants. Amonix supposedly began selling equipment, including automated tooling systems and robotic welding cells in an online auction Wednesday.

Under the Bush administration’s Department of Energy, Amonix was selected for a grant in 2007, which saw the company eventually receive US$15.6 million for R&D and US$6 million in federal tax credits. Rene Kenerly, a former material and supply manager with Amonix, told the Las Vegas Review that the plant has been idle since he was laid off on May 1.

Company and government officials cited former Amonix CEO Brian Robertson’s sudden death last year as a factor in its financial troubles. Kenerly even noted that many investors withdraw after Robertson's death, leading Amonix to be around US$100 million in debt, including US$34 million owed to Flextronics.

“Last year, Amonix CEO Brian Robert¬son was tragically killed in a plane crash and unfortunately the company was unable to recover from this difficult time,” Nevada Sen. Harry Reid said Wednesday in an email statement to the Review. “Some people will be tempted to use today's unfortunate news for political gain. But I am hopeful that the bipartisan support for this project and the public-private partnership that helped make this and many other projects possible will not be degraded by dirty energy supporters for their own profit or political gain. The clean energy sector is too important to Nevada's future, and I hope that those that publicly acknowledge this will continue to strengthen the bipartisan support for renewable energy programs and incentives that exists in Nevada.”

In January, Amonix laid off 200 of its employees, but advised that it was “retooling to redeploy our next generation utility-scale CPV solar power system” and would “ramp back up based on the manufacturing build plan in second half of 2012.”

According to the report, Bombard Electric, a Las Vegas contractor that did the electrical work, has put a lien on the property, while Mitchel “Moe” Truman, president of transportation company Pan Western, said that his company is owed nearly US$60,000 for shipping Amonix products to and from Colorado. “I'll never see that money,” Truman to the Review. “I'd like to know how they burned through that money.”

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