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***Exclusive*** Must credit CompleteColorado.com

March 06, 2012

by Todd Shepherd

Documents obtained by CompleteColorado.com show that Abound Solar created an unexpected, and previously unreported 10 day production shutdown over the Christmas and New Year's holidays, and then went on to tell employees, "Don't let the rumor mill create false purposes for this shutdown." The shutdown was announced to employees just after Thanksgiving by company president Craig Witsoe.

Another document outlines the 2012 goals for "The Next Great Solar Company" and specifically states that where cash management is concerned, the company should "stretch payables," meaning Abound would be attempting to pay their bills at the last possible moment, or perhaps would be agreeing to repay vendors through smaller installment payments that include interest or small penalties. One inference that could be drawn from the "stretch payables" strategy would be that the company is not cash heavy and/or that cash flows are poor.

In a December 2nd email from Heather Gabaldon giving directions for the shutdown, employees were told,
Don't let the rumor mill create false purposes for this shut down. Holiday shut downs in businesses are common and represent best of class employer actions. We are shutting down to better manage the inventory, cost and to help employees have time with their families. Any other story is a rumor and not helpful in our building open and effective communications.

Abound Solar holiday shutdown

On February 28, the company announced layoffs to 180 full-time workers, and 100 part-time employees, in a move that now even has industry analysts wondering aloud at the future of the company.

ABC News recently reported that just prior to the February announcement of the long-term layoffs:
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform asked Energy Secretary Steven Chu to explain how the solar panel manufacturer had qualified for the loan after the ratings firm Fitch had determined the company would make a "highly speculative" investment.
In September of 2010, CompleteColorado.com was first to report the connections between Obama-bundler and Colorado 'Gang-of-Four' member Pat Stryker, and Abound Solar.

One year later, this website editorialized for more transparency concerning the DOE loan to Abound.

Amy Oliver of the Independence Institute broke the news that Weld County recently withdrew tax credits for Abound because of a lack of job creation.

No report puts all of the pieces together in one place as well as this article by Paul Chesser of the National Legal and Policy Center.

If you have tips on Abound Solar, or any other potential story, email us at CompleteColorado (at) gmail.com