Parent Company of Solar Manufacturer Announces Bankruptcy

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Energy Conversion Devices (ECD), the parent company of Greenville-based United Solar Ovonic (USO), confirmed Tuesday that they have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11.

ECD has said plans include the sale of USO, though USO would continue to operate during the sale process according to a company news release. USO is known as a leader in manufacturing flexible, thin photovoltaic products used in commercial solar power projects.

According to the company, a new initiative has shown promise with new partnerships and with consumer-oriented products like a solar cover for the Amazon Kindle e-reader device.

In November 2011, USO said 140 employees were expected to be affected by planned cuts. The series of cuts was to be the third since December of 2009. The 2009 layoffs were expected to be around 400 employees, and a later May 2011 round of layoffs was expected to affect 100 workers.

The November 2011 layoffs were said to be temporary, based on the company heading into a slower time of year. As for the Chapter 11 status, here is what a plant manager in Greenville had to say:

“Seventy percent of the senior note holders support what we are going through, so, we are valuable company and we feel very confident that we will be bought and we will be an ongoing business and continue to grow.” Tim Kelley, Plant Manager in Greenville said. He went on to say, "During the process, United Solar in Greenville will be open. We will have men and women working on our technology roadmap and special projects. However, all associates in Greenville will be affected in some manor."

USO said they expect demand for solar products to pick-up beginng of 2012, at which point they hoped to bring back the laid-off workers.

The company, which employs about 1,600 workers, also has operations in Mexico and Europe.

The latest job woes come after Greenville took job losses in the thousands when Electrolux pulled out of the city in 2007.






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