News Column

Owls Head solar energy company, supported by state funds, files for bankruptcy

August 1, 2014

By Darren Fishell, Bangor Daily News, Maine

Aug. 01--PORTLAND, Maine -- The Owls Head-based solar technology company Ascendant Energy has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, seeking to eliminate more than $780,000 in debt including grants and loans from the Maine Technology Institute and investment from the Wiscasset-based Coastal Enterprises Inc.

The company had received nearly $1 million in loans or grants through the Maine Technology Institute, a nonprofit supported with state money, to develop its proprietary solar panel technology and to launch a manufacturing facility it projected in 2009 could provide up to 40 jobs. At that time, the company was pursuing a $5 million manufacturing operation in Rockland that it planned to finance through a mix of private investment and state and federal grants.

The company's CEO, Chris Straka, was not immediately available for comment Friday. Straka, the 100 percent shareholder in the company, has declared bankruptcy separately under Chapter 13, allowing reorganization of his debt that will allow him to keep his home in Owl's Head.

The filing entered in U.S. bankruptcy court Thursday shows the company has $781,957 in liabilities and $1,610 in assets with no property. Most of its debt is to the Maine Technology Institute, which it owes $327,948, and to Coastal Enterprises Inc., which it owes $231,105.

Jeffrey White, attorney for the company and Straka, said that there's unlikely to be any funds distributed from the company.

The company last made the news in 2010, when it faced a number of lawsuits from creditors. Straka at the time said the company's troubles were in part because of a bad economy. The company was listed as a property taxpayer in Rockland in 2011, in an office at 313 Main St., but not listed in 2012 or 2013.

According to the bankruptcy filings, the company also has tens of thousands in debt to area contractors, including $52,286 to Jim Godbout Plumbing & Heating Inc. in Biddeford and $28,402 to G&E Roofing Co. Inc. in Augusta.

The company lists its assets as one laptop and one printer valued at $500, 6-year-old solar modules valued at $600, and hand tools and battery tools valued at $500.

In the related personal bankruptcy case, Straka and his attorney submitted Thursday a payment plan for the mortgage and a lien Coastal Enterprises Inc. has on the home he owns jointly with his wife. That plan calls for Straka to pay out $600 per month for 54 months to a bankruptcy trustee, who would then make payments on a car loan, lenders holding the home mortgage and Coastal Enterprises Inc.


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Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)

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