Audit: Oregon agency continued supporting solar company
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon agency continued to financially back a solar panel company despite its default on loan repayments to the state.
The state gave $13.5 million in tax credits, $10 million in direct financial assistance and millions of dollars in tax breaks to SoloPower Systems when it entered Portland eight years ago, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Tuesday.
The company, which promised lighter, thinner solar panels, shut down its factory and laid off most of its employees in 2013. It later stopped making payments on its state loan.
The Oregon Secretary of State is questioning the state Department of Energy’s decision to make rent payments on behalf of the company, which had a “history of loan default, forbearance, and restructuring,” according to a recently released audit.
The company asked for help from the state Department of Energy in paying its rent last July, receiving nearly $642,000. Auditors found no evidence that the department received collateral or security for those payments, and it did not consultant an independent expert, according to the audit.
“We had multiple discussions with Goldman Sachs from August to October 2017,” agency spokeswoman Rachel Wray said. “The investment would have made SoloPower a ‘going concern,’ meaning it could resume operations; we never saw terms that involved the (state) loan being paid in one fell swoop. Eventually that conversation went quiet, the investment didn’t go through, and we don’t have any specific information about why.”
Following the rent payments, the agency did consider giving more money to the company. Agency officials approached Gov. Kate Brown’s staff in September 2017 about an additional investment, which Brown’s office rejected, said her spokesman Chris Pair.
Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com