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Burning Taxpayers’ Money: Solar Company Declares Bankruptcy

The sun is setting on Evergreen Solar, whose green-energy business fizzled even though Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration showered the Marlboro company with $58 million in subsidies and tax breaks.

Evergreen, which made panels for solar-power generation, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday, listing $485.6 million in debts but only $424.5 million in assets.

The clean-energy firm’s collapse had criticism flaring anew.

“The bankruptcy of Evergreen Solar … highlights the folly of the Patrick-Murray administration, which has put government subsidies into (its) pet projects instead of offering broad-based relief to all Bay State employers,” Massachusetts Republican chair Jennifer Nassour said yesterday after Evergreen filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Evergreen, which made solar-power panels, cut about half of its 133 remaining employees and sought bankruptcy protection after concluding that it couldn’t compete with low-cost Chinese manufacturers.

The company had already shifted some work to China last year in a cost-cutting move, then closed its Devens factory in March and eliminated 800 jobs.

Evergreen’s bankruptcy comes just four years after the Patrick administration gave the firm millions in grants, loans and cheap land in exchange for promises of “green” jobs.

“Evergreen Solar is one of the companies that is going to help us get clean energy right,” Patrick boasted in April 2007 in announcing the aid, which included a $1-a-year lease on 23 acres of the former Fort Devens military base.

Lawmakers of both sides of the aisle have criticized that package ever since Evergreen announced plans to send work offshore.

“It’s angering to see $58 million go and know that we most likely won’t get any of it back,” state Rep. Vinny DeMacedo (R-Plymouth) said. “That’s enough money for 1,200 (government) employees at a time when we’re cutting teachers and firefighters and police.”

The state has called for months on Evergreen to return some of the aid, but yesterday’s filing makes that unlikely.

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