Gongwer's is reporting that solar firm Willard & Kelsey has been declared in default on a second $5 million loan.
Yes - the same Willard & Kelsey Vice President Joe Biden toured in 2009, where he said "he believes alternative energy can be the cornerstone of the area's future economy and can be a good deal for everyone."
The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority became the second state agency Thursday to call a multi-million dollar loan due on a Toledo area solar panel manufacturer.
OAQDA members voted unanimously to declare Willard & Kelsey Solar Group in default of a $5 million loan and gave the company until Sept. 3 to pay back the full amount.
The Department of Development took similar action a few weeks ago on a separate $5 million loan the agency had granted the troubled firm 2010.
Last spring OAQDA sought help from a consultant to assess the financial viability of three solar companies that were failing to make payments on loans from a program designed to encourage alternative energy development.
More recently, the authority gave Willard & Kelsey a deadline to make a $1 million payment by Wednesday, which it failed to do.
OAQDA Chairwoman Gayle Channing Tenenbaum said the agency tried to give the company more flexibility to pay back the 2010 loan, but eventually came to the conclusion that it was unlikely to be able to.
"These are taxpayer dollars. And we worked with the company, but the reality is that they were in default. We gave them a set of things that we thought they needed to meet and they weren't able to do it," she told reporters after the meeting.
"We do this with a heavy heart. We don't think it's a great thing to be out calling a loan on a business. We had hoped that the solar industry would be able to take off under the advanced energy in the state, but for these folks, at this particular moment, they don't have the capital to make it go," she said.
If the company is unable to pay back the money by Sept. 3, OAQDA will forward the matter to the attorney general for collection, Ms. Channing Tenenbaum said.
"You can't just let it go on and on and say, 'You're in default, you're in default, you're in default.' At some point you have to say, 'Look, we've given you every chance and we have to just say we can't continue to do this.' We've got to try and get as much of the taxpayers' money back as we can," she said.