Blog Post

HelioVolt: Raising Funds to Get Out of Neutral?

While thin film solar startup Solyndra teed up an IPO, and then had to ditch it earlier this month, other thin film solar firms are still solidly stuck in neutral. Everyone’s still waiting for the announcement from HelioVolt, which was founded in 2001 and has raised at least $130 million in funding, to say that it has moved into commercial production. As of February of this year, the Austin Business Journal reported that the company had been shipping samples to select customers, but hadn’t yet started full scale production.

This week, according to a filing, HelioVolt has raised another $31.5 million, this time in debt and options. One can only guess that it needs the funding to help it move into commercial production.

The Austin Business Journal also reported in February that HelioVolt had to delay a job projection pledge with the state of Texas by two years, just 18 months after it took $1 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund. Vice President of Business Development Iga Hallberg told the Journal that the global recession and weakened demand for solar was the cause of the delay. The ABJ said:

The original agreement called for creating 158 jobs in return for that $1 million in two equal payments. But the amended agreement extends the target date for creating that many jobs from December 2010 to December 2012 and extends the amount of time the company must maintain those jobs from January 2016 to January 2018, according to Gov. Rick Perry’s office, which oversees the Texas Enterprise Fund.

HelioVolt previously expected to start commercial production in 2008, and even had a ribbon cutting ceremony for its factory in late 2008. Then that deadline was pushed back to early 2009, and then finally to sometime in 2010. I would guess that it’ll be pushed back yet again. In February 2009, HelioVolt’s founder BJ Stanbery left the CEO spot to serve as chief strategy officer and chairman of the board, and in June 2009, HelioVolt brought on former First Solar (s FSLR) COO Jim Flanary as its new CEO.

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