Documents obtained by Colorado Watchdog show that Loveland-based Abound Solar removed an entire rooftop of solar panels from the investment headquarters of wealthy Democrat benefactor Pat Stryker, likely because of inherent product defects.
Originally touted as a green energy success story by President Barack Obama and others, Abound Solar finds itself in the national spotlight after laying off almost 200 workers in February, despite a $400 million loan guarantee from the federal Department of Energy. Stryker’s political ties to the Obama administration drew sharp criticism in a recent Congressional Oversight report.
In a Nov. 8, 2010, email, an Abound Solar sales representative asks an engineer to go to Stryker’s Fort Collins-based Bohemian Investment Corp. headquarters to "take down the broken modules (I think 14 total) as well as 4 that we shipped them originally? Chris R. will be wanting the 4 unused ones for FA." In engineering lingo, FA is frequently used to mean "failure analysis."
The product failure on Bohemian’s rooftop came just one month before Abound would sign documents formalizing the federally backed loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.
The email raises questions about DOE risk-management on loan guarantees. The Congressional Oversight report highlighted the fact that Fitch Ratings company "described Abound as lagging in technology relative to its competitors, failing to achieve stated efficiency targets, and expecting that Abound Solar will suffer from increasing commoditization and pricing pressures." Fitch estimated the chances of taxpayer recovery of the Abound loan at just 45 percent.