The solar industry is going through its toughest sales year amidst some painful but necessary consolidation, contraction, and restructuring. At the end of this tunnel lies a healthier and leaner solar industry. In the meantime:
SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWRA) is going through a reorganization. SunPower announced that its CFO, Dennis Arriola, will be leaving the firm in March of 2012 and that Jim Pape, President of the Residential and Commercial division, will leave later this month. The maker of the world's most efficient solar panels expects a reduction in force on the order of 100 people globally in an effort to lower non-manufacturing operating expenses by as much as 10 percent in 2012.
First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) recently saw the sudden announcement of CEO Rob Gillette leaving the firm. The CEO transition was carried out in a surprisingly (especially for the usually predictable First Solar) sloppy manner. But new CEO Mike Ahearn led off the most recent earnings call with some strong language, saying that inertia was holding the firm back and there was too much of a fixation on short-term earnings per share. Ahearn reinforced First Solar's commitment to create a product that can generate power economically in non-subsidized markets.
United Solar Ovonic, subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices (Nasdaq: ENER) and maker of flexible amorphous silicon solar panels, is laying off more than 140 workers at two solar panel manufacturing plants according to an article in The Detroit News. The firm is describing the cuts as "temporary furloughs necessary to adjust inventory and that workers should be called back at the beginning of next year." The firm will report quarterly earnings next week. The company lost $70.8 million during its last fiscal year.
SunWize Technologies hired Scott Tonn as CEO and moved its headquarters to San Jose, Calif. from Kingston, N.Y. SunWize is a subsidiary of Mitsui & Co. and installs commercial and residential solar systems.
(On the topic of human resources, did Solyndra executives' performance warrant bonus payments shortly before declaring bankruptcy?)