Evergreen Solar consolidates facilities, stays on track with solar manufacturing plans

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Evergreen Solar said it shipped 8.5 MW of its proprietary String Ribbon photovoltaic modules from its Devens, MA, factory and an additional 3.7 MW from its Marlboro, MA, pilot manufacturing facility during the fourth quarter of 2008, numbers that are in line with its announced expectations in October.

The company–which manufactures wafers, cells, and modules at its sites–also received its certificate of occupancy for the second phase of the Devens facility on Dec. 19 and expects to reach the planned full capacity of about 40 MW per quarter from that factory in the second half of 2009.

“Despite an increasingly challenging environment, including pricing pressure and softening demand in December, we produced and shipped more than 12 MW of products in the fourth quarter of 2008, including 8.5 MW from our Devens facility,” said Richard Feldt, chairman/president/CEO. “Because our Devens ramp remains on schedule, we ceased production at our Marlboro pilot manufacturing facility on Dec. 31.

“Ongoing R&D activities will continue to be performed at our research and development facility in Marlboro, and advanced manufacturing piloting activities will be performed at our Devens manufacturing facility, with little or no impact to overall production capacity,” he explained.

Almost all of the Marlboro pilot facility employees have transferred to Devens to fill open roles associated with the second phase of Devens, the company said. It expects to incur approximately $350,000 in severance costs through March 31, 2009, for the individuals not transferred to Devens.

Evergreen will also incur noncash charges of approximately $25 million, nearly all in the fourth quarter of 2008, associated with the write-off of manufacturing and development equipment and leasehold improvements of the Marlboro pilot facility. Over the next 12 months, the company says it may also incur location restoration, disposition, and moving costs of between $3 million to $5 million.

The company believes that by shuttering the Marlboro pilot facility and better utilizing existing equipment and facilities at its R&D center and at its Devens manufacturing plant, these actions will help lower overhead costs and reduce overall cash requirements.

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