Evergreen Solar to Shut Down Massachusetts Plant, Lay Off 800 Workers

1/11/11Follow @gthuang

Bad news for the Massachusetts cleantech industry—and a lot of factory workers. Marlboro, MA-based Evergreen Solar (NASDAQ: ESLR), a developer and manufacturer of solar panels, said today it will shut down its manufacturing plant in Devens, MA, and lay off 800 workers there by the end of the first quarter of 2011.

The plant represented a great hope for the state’s renewable energy industry when it opened back in 2008, but the writing has been on the wall for some time now. In late 2009, Evergreen Solar said it would move some of its solar panel production from Massachusetts to China for economic reasons. And the company has been losing money because of falling prices in the solar industry, as well as fierce competition from overseas.

“Although production costs at our Devens facility have steadily decreased, and are now below originally planned levels and lower than most western manufacturers, they are still much higher than those of our low cost competitors in China,” said Evergreen CEO Michael El-Hillow in a statement. “We have consistently stated during quarterly conference calls throughout 2010 that we would continue to manufacture in Devens as long as it was economically feasible.”

Apparently that is no longer the case. But Evergreen said it will continue to operate its plants in Midland, MI, and Wuhan, China. El-Hillow joined Evergreen in September, after former chief executive Richard Feldt left to become the CEO of Advanced Electron Beams.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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