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Stion panels

State’s case against solar panel firm settled for $2.5 million

By JACK WEATHERLY

On April 13, a case against Stion Solar that at one point had been valued at $93 million was settled for $2.5 million with the signature of Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Tomie T. Green.

The dismissal with prejudice means that the case cannot be pursued again.

Stion Solar, which had been manufacturing photovoltaic film and cells, was no longer a part of the case, having relinquished control of what was left of the manufacturer to a firm specializing in disposing of failed companies.

Stion shut its manufacturing doors in Hattiesburg in October 2017.

The Mississippi Development Authority had lent Stion $75 million.

As of June 22, the MDA said in an email in response to a Mississippi Business Journal query that “the state has received $15,149,658 in interest only payments and $732,838 toward the principal balance.”

The company has $74,127,360 in outstanding principal and $789,446 in accrued interest.”

Yet, the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office stated an email to the Journal on July 7 that “there is no pending case against Stion Solar.

The State determined that the cost of pursuing a claim against Stion was not worth the potential benefit.

However, the State did litigate against DSI (Development Specialists, Inc.), which managed Stion’s assets after it failed. DSI settled and paid MDA $2.5 million.”

 The MDA endorsed the message from the attorney general’s office.

San Jose, Calif.-based Stion Solar opened the factory in Hattiesburg in 2011, with the hope of creating at least 1,000 jobs and attracting $500 million in investments in the first six years.

In November 2013, Khosla Ventures took a controlling sharein the venture.

Then-State Auditor Stacy Pickering said in March 2018 that Stion Solar in Hattiesburg owed the state $93 million in its failed effort.

During Gov. Haley Barbour’s two four-year terms, from 2004 through 2012, the state made a stake in some ambitious, but ultimately failed, start-ups.

Khosla Ventures,founded by billionaire Vinod Khosla, was behind another alt-energy venture in Mississippi, KiOR, which failed to produce biocrude in a commercial viable amount.

More than five years ago, the state of Mississippi sued billionaire Vinod Khosla and others, contending that they knew that bankrupt firm KiOR had poor prospects for success in making biocrude oil but misled the state into making the company a $75 million no-interest loan.

The KiOR Inc. Liquidation Trust subsequently sued officers in the KiOR project for misleading presentation of the endeavor.

Twin Creeks Technologies, a facility for which was built in Senatobia at a cost of $27.7 million by the state for the solar-panel manufacturer, closed without producing marketable panels.

The state eventually leased the building and then-Gov. Phil Bryant said he expected the state to make full recovery.

The MDA said last week that the state is still receiving payments on the project from the city of Senatobia from the current tenant, ABB Low Voltage Technology, a Swiss-Swedish firm.

The failure of the Mississippi Power Co. “clean-coal” facility in Kemper County cost taxpayers no money but overran projections by $4.5 billion as it failed to produce synthetic coal gas on a marketable scale.

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About Jack Weatherly