Willard & Kelsey Solar uncloaked by lawsuit

EquiSolar International, Inc. filed the breech of contract suit seeking $14.9 million.
Juicy Photovoltaic (PV) innuendo for the New Year.

wk_logo_finalSolar panel start-up target of $14.9M suit by Jon Chavez at The Toledo Blade said:

Karen W. “Kay” Stripling, who lists herself as a consultant and owner of Equisolar International Inc., of Marianna, Fla., alleges Willard & Kelsey breached its contract with her by defaulting on its deal with the buyer, and thereby denying her a commission.

After arranging a 100 MW (MegaWatt) CdTe (Cadmium Telluride) thin cell PV module deal valued at $230 million with an unnamed Italian solar company, Ms. Stripling alleges Willard & Kelsey Solar Group LLC also known as WK Solar Group, LLC:

“knowingly and repeatedly” misrepresented its ability to produce solar panels that could be certified for use in Europe and delivered to the buyer.

Ms. Stripling contends in the suit that the Perrysburg firm not only deceived her and the Italian buyer, but also the state governments of Ohio and Florida from which the company was trying to obtain funding.

Furthermore, Ms. Stripling alleges WK Solar touted the deal to obtain investors and line up economic incentives such as the $10 million Advanced Energy Job Stimulus Loan from the Ohio Controlling Board in August 2009. WK Solar had already obtained a $5 million economic development loan and a $500000 grant from the state of Ohio in 2008.

But that’s not all. The Toledo Blade said:

The lawsuit states that in September, Willard & Kelsey’s former CEO, William Mitchell, who abruptly left the company, told Ms. Stripling in writing that the solar start-up was not yet capable of producing panels commercially, and would be incapable of doing so until seven months after it received $10 million worth of new funding.

Regarding the suit, WK Solar’s counsel, Matthew Cox of Tucker Ellis & West LLP, said, “Her claims are without merit. The entire lawsuit is without merit, and we will defend these claims vigorously.

Last October, WK Solar was still trying to fund their production line expansion from one pilot line capable of producing ten (10) WK 75 (75 Watt?) PV modules per hour.

In “Solar energy firm to start production” by Gary T. Pakulski for The Toledo Blade from March 26, 2009, then WK Solar CEO William R. Mitchell said that trial production will begin in the coming weeks and that full-scale manufacturing will start in the next seven to eight months. WK Solar had aspirations to hire 400 employees by year end 2009. Mr. Mitchell also said “The firm is in final discussions with an undisclosed prospective customer that is interested in buying all of the panels the firm can produce over the next two to three years.”

At the time, WK Solar was applying for $100 million in Federal stimulus funds for a planned $1.2 Billion PV module manufacturing park which it claimed would create 3700 jobs. WK Solar hosted a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Governor Ted Strickland last June 2009.

WK Solar founders and many members of the Management Team originate from Glasstech, Inc. and Solar Cell, Inc., both founded by Harold McMaster, or nearby First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR). In fact, True North Partners, LLC purchased a controlling interest in Solar Cell, Inc. back in 1999 and later renamed the company First Solar LLC!

WK Solar is located about eight (8) miles from the First Solar Perrysburg facility.

View WK Solar LLC in a larger map

(Full disclosure: I own some shares of FSLR stock.)

3 comments

  1. Accelon Asia says:

    William MItchell also was on the head of another company called Accelon Energy Asia, running a scam seeking millions in investment for a CTL plant in Indonesia (coal to gas). A few of the people on the about page of WKsolargroup were also connected with Accelon Asia.

    One of the main Accelon representatives in Asia, Chris Harney recently fled Thailand where there is an arrest warrant out for him for fraud!

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