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Solar companies Solyndra of California, Evergreen Solar Inc. of Massachusetts, and SpectraWatt of New York have all filed bankruptcy petitions and face drastic restructuring if not liquidation.

Solar panel maker Solyndra Inc., which recieved a $535 million federal loan and about $1 billion in venture capital, plans to file for bankruptcy protection. The Fremont, California company is suspending manufacturing operations immediately and laying off 1,100 full-time and temporary employees. Solyndra's planned Chapter 11 filing is a black eye for the clean-technology industry and for a federal program to guarantee $25 billion in loans. Solyndra was the first company to receive funds under the Department of Energy's loan-guarantee program.

Solyndra adds to a list of crippled solar ventures. Evergreen Solar Inc. entered bankruptcy protection in August after closing a Massachusetts plant. SpectraWatt Inc., an Intel Corp. spinoff, also filed for bankruptcy protection in August, after closing a New York factory.

Not all U.S.-backed solar companies are struggling. First Solar Inc., one of the world's largest manufacturers and developers, is getting more than $5.3 billion in loan guarantees to build four large solar farms. The company has a solar-panel factory in Ohio, but makes most of its products in Malaysia. First Solar didn't seek a loan guarantee for a second U.S. factory under construction.

Solyndra filed for an initial public offering in December 2009, months after securing the federal loan to build its plant. In 2010, it was ranked atop The Wall Street Journal's survey of venture-backed cleantech companies. But last year, Solyndra withdrew the IPO filing, replaced its chief executive and slashed costs in an effort to turn its business around.

Solyndra investors included CMEA Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Madrone Capital Partners, RockPort Capital Partners, U.S. Venture Partners, Virgin Green Fund and the George Kaiser Family Foundation. They provided roughly $1 billion in funding, but many of the earliest investors' interests were wiped out in this year's recapitalization. (WSJ, 9/1/2011)