When I spoke with Andrew Schneider, the CEO of American Solar Direct, earlier this year, he told me that despite a recent round of layoffs aimed at "low producers," the situation was full speed ahead at the solar installer and sales company, which had its first cash-flow positive months in late 2016.
Last week, American Solar Direct filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in California Central Bankruptcy Court (first spotted by Triple Pundit). According to its bankruptcy filing, the company had less than $50,000 in assets and liabilities of between $10 million and $50 million.
In 2013, GTM Research named American Solar Direct (ASD) as a residential PV installer to watch. At the time, ASD was one of the few top 20 installers that had experienced consistent, positive quarter-over-quarter growth since it began installing PV systems in California in 2010. ASD raised its own project funds and received two rounds of equity investment, as well as $50 million to support its lease program from WGL Holdings, parent company of utility Washington Gas. A year ago, American Solar Direct won an undisclosed amount of funding from Dubai-based Adenium Capital.
But this is a tricky year for the U.S. solar industry, with fewer PV panels being deployed across the U.S. than in 2016. Residential solar is seeing flat or down business after years of runaway growth.
There is trouble in the residential market: Verengo, Sungevity and OneRoof are out of business. Tesla saved SolarCity with an acquisition. Enphase has had some difficult quarters. On the module front, we've seen the bankruptcies of SolarWorld, Suniva and Beamreach. The same plunging prices that have enabled solar adoption also compress the margin of any player in the field.
"California is a big part of the issue. Not only is the state going to be transitioning to its second-generation of net metering and switching to time-of-use rates, but the state also had to cope with unprecedented rains in the first quarter of this year," concluded GTM Head of Research Shayle Kann.
Source: GTM Research