WBUR

Evergreen Solar To Move Jobs To China

A solar panel company that received $58 million in state aid to build its factory in Massachusetts is now moving jobs overseas.

Evergreen Solar is shifting some of its production, currently done at a plant in Devens, to China next year, after posting an $82 million loss in the third quarter.

Gov. Deval Patrick calls the move unfortunate, but says some of Evergreen’s operations will remain here.

Evergreen Solar CEO Rick Feldt announces the renewable energy company's second phase of expansion at its Devens manufacturing facility in April 2008 while Gov. Deval Patrick looks on. (Courtesy of office of the governor)

Evergreen Solar CEO Rick Feldt announces a second phase of expansion at the company's Devens manufacturing facility in April 2008 while Gov. Deval Patrick looks on. (Office of the governor)

“I’m disappointed about the manufacturing,” Patrick said, “but I’m delighted that they will continue to grow jobs in Massachusetts and they will be a part of our emerging clean tech sector.”

Ian Bowles, secretary of the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, called Evergreen’s decision disappointing.

State Sen. Mark Montigny is one of the lawmakers who said this proves what he’s been saying all along, that the state should not be spending taxpayer money to woo private business.

“No one should be surprised,” Montigny said. “Many of us have spoken very aggressively on the floor of the Senate against these boondoggles and they continue to happen. The biggest and most egregious right now are the billion dollars going to waste on the bio-tech industry.”

About half of the 577 full-time and 230 contract employees at the Devens factory are involved in putting the panels together, but the company did not say how many jobs the state would lose.

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  • Jim O’Dowd

    We paid for them to build thier company and now they leave for China!!! I think they need to pay a 58 million dollar bill before they are allowed to move thier equipment.

  • Jack Kelley

    WBZ reported they’ll be keeping more than the agreed-to level of employement here. [Just doing the dirty work in China I guess.] Not exactly a travesty of justice. The price of their product just plummetted in the market. It’s either close-up shop or compete in reality.

  • http://www.southcoastgreenlight.com Gary Cyr

    $58 million tax dollars wasted. The State should have had an agreement with this company for reimbursement of this money if they left within 20 years. This incentive was mismanaged just like the Commonwealth Solar programs $68 million. The Governor’s been enamored by these noble renewable efforts, but his managers have failed him.

  • Effie Stewart

    58 million dollars given to a company with limited conditions attached which would protect jobs here in Massachusetts?????????? It would appear that Deval Patrick just gave yet another big Holiday present to any challenger in the next race for Governor.
    ( Just out of curiosity, do we know what the saleries are of the CEO and other officers of the company? )

  • Tom Jones

    And we keep on taxing and regulating. I thought we were smart.

  • martingl

    Since the overpaid CEO and other management at ESLR is giving our American jobs to China, let’s also send all American politicians to China too..for being traitors to our country.

    The idiot politicians of MA could have given ESLR some form of tax incentives to stay.

    The only thing that the corrupt and overpaid Feldt is good at is losing and wasting money and stealing from the shareholders.

  • http://www.online-guitar-tuition.com/ Online Guitar Tuition

    hmm nothing like losing Green jobs to the worst polluters on earth.

    not sure whether to laugh or cry.

  • Uncle B

    The new Asian reality strikes again! Yankee Doodle, from the factory floor up to the top of the company cannot do the job! Poor schooling, poor health care, poor attitudes, drug addiction alcoholism, sexual misbehavior, gluttony, greed, “Entitlement” notions, fancy full “American Dream” notions, and owning a motor car that drinks gasoline, all get in his way, add to his cost, distort investments away from process to focus on him, not product. He dishonestly manipulates the situation into massive corporate health care schemes, union situations, building of ‘burbs nearby filled with non-survivable McMansions, molls and theaters, and forgets good schooling and a disciplined, chaste, clean, and economic survival style life altogether! He eats enough meat in a day for six Asians to survive on for a week, has no cheaper veggies in his diet to speak of, and wants a foot ball star for a son, not a scientist, engineer or mathematician, his whole society based around sports star stud adorations even gives preferential breeding rights to the bigger bodied, physically stronger over the intellectually developed individual even at the high school level, and then he sits in wonderment and amazement as the most recent Scientific developments come from Asia or Asians he imports to show the way in his upper schools! This great dumbing down must stop to change the flow of jobs in a technological age, grow towards a society that champions intellectual over physical performance as does Asia. India a prime example, nation of primarily low upkeep vegans, play “Cricket” like the Brits of older times, and produce more good “Engineers to the world” than U.S.A. ever has! The next world war is not being fought by great healthy hulking infantrymen on foot in the dust in WWII battle field fashion! Why does Yankee Doodle Dandy prepare so diligently for that? The new battlefield is economic, with better factories, higher efficiencies in manufacturing, intensive use of computer controlled computer directed hydraulics, electromechanics and intelligent design for streamlined products to fit the new paradigm, and American “Armstrong” factories and industries die by the way-side, having been robbed of development money for immediate ROI at home, with no investments in future developments. Howcum? Which great regulations failed the “Sports Star” and “Financial Manipulators” notions in America? How can we keep new industries at home? What changes do we have to make or die, to meet the new world standards, the new world marketplace after the Asian fact? Has Asia really beaten us on the new battlefield of the post “mutual Destruction” nuclear age? Have we outgrown the modern paradigm in our demands? Are Americans an anomalous misfit in the modern technological age, and unsustainable at any rate? Americans failed here, by American accountancies own admission. Why? This we need to know for our basic survival!

  • Hemfna

    It’s only fair since China basically owns the US now.

  • Adam O.

    I’m pretty sure that the only jobs that will be leaving will be the panel assembly jobs.

    Nanosolar also divides its production into cell production and panel assembly. Nanosolar has their panel assembly done in Germany, at a fully robotic facility. Evergreen’s using inexpensive human labor to do the same. In either case, panel assembly is just basic manufacturing, you might as well be fabricating vinyl windows.

    I would doubt very much that either company would relocate its cell/wafer fabrication to China, too many secrets to protect.

    Same goes with biotech and pharma. The secrets stay here.

  • Chris M

    @ Online Guitar Tuition
    Worst polluters? China has a much bigger population which you need to take into account. If you look at emissions per capita USA is a much bigger polluter.

  • Steve

    I say we ship all executive management jobs overseas to save money. We are told that Asia and India are all better educated, higher IQ’s and work for a fraction of what it costs here in the US. We gave the working class jobs away already I think it’s time for them to share in our pain as well. Just imagine a single CEO savings in the tens of millions saved annually to just one company. How many workers jobs would that save?

  • Bill

    How many people have gone to China and seen what our money has bought them?

    Everything is new in the big cities. The roads, the buildings, the airports, the trains, the stores, the cars. Everything.

    Buy MADE IN THE USA. If you don’t start demanding it America you are going to find this country in 3rd world status within a decade.

    When I come back to America from Asia or Europe I can’t believe the condition of the infrastructure. 3rd world for sure.

  • Lorreen

    I’m disgusted. I agree that Evergreen should reimburse the State of MA. Until we start to create a level playing field in terms of workers rights we will continue to see the American Economy decline. Not everyone is ready or able to attend university to assume high tech jobs. China already owns so much of USA debt I guess they may as well own Evergreen Solar.

  • EG Worker

    I have been working at Evergreen for the last two years. We busted our butt to get this factory up and running and believe me, no one is happy about the situation. We had expected the price of panels to be $2.50 a watt in 2014, not 2009. Chinese manufacturers are literally selling their panels at or below cost. We have been driving down costs but no matter how fast we cut costs, the price kept dropping faster. No one can make money when the market is like that. So, the choice is to find ways to cut manufacturing costs or close up shop. We had already taken a 10% paycut in order to avoid lay offs.

    Not all jobs are leaving Devens – we will still make wafers and cells and should demand pick up, the panel line will re-open.

    Whether Evergreen makes it or not, the question we should be asking ourselves is – do we as a country want to be a player in the green energy market? I joined this company because I thought the US would be a player. It seems I was mistaken in that assumption.

    We continue to subsidize big oil and big coal with massive tax breaks (not to mention the military cost of keeping oil flowing from the middle east) and the unconsidered costs of environmental degredation and health issues those industries cause on a routine basis that they do not consider at all in their pricing structure.

    Until the fossil fuel industry has to play by the same rules the rest of us do, I have grave douts that any green energy company will be able to make a go of it on U.S. shores.

  • Norm Eddy

    I think it is time to start embezzlement charges against the c e o .He knew he was going to do that from day one!
    Ask the Lenaire Builders about Chinese products-3000 homes had to be sheetrocked because of inferior drywall so just wait he’ll fall on his face

  • Norm Levesque

    Yes, their production equipment should be siezed and they should pay back the corporate welfare money given to them by the state (suckers). Take the money to help pay unemployment benefits and health care expenses of the displaced workers. The excess can go into job training.
    By the way, I worked with a Philippino man who said that in his country people try their best to buy US goods, not China, India, Mexico, etc… because of the poor quality of the overseas rip-offs. It’s our own fault here though, we let the greedy American companies move their operations overseas so they could make their stuff cheap then sell it back to us for $$$$$$$. And now we’re actually PAYING THEM SUBSIDIES to do it!

  • SP

    This story doesn’t surprise me in the least seeing as the leader of this company is Rick Feldt. Mr Feldt is nothing more than a self centered pompous ass who has driven more than one company into the ground all the while boosting his own worth. When Mr Feldt was at AT Cross in Rhode Island he single handedly turned a once proud company into just another “made in China” entity all the while collecting a nice fat paycheck. This is one evil person who should never be allowed to run another company into the ground.

  • Anonymous

    How about some hefty tarrifs on the imported chinese products. If it costs “x” dollars to make and sell a panel in the us…a comparable imported panel should cosst at least “x” + 20%

  • Joe

    This is corporate fraud, plan and simple. These guys took advantage of a well intended program…took our tax dollars, paid themselves big bonuses while losing 54 million dollars…the state should go after these crooks

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