Nation’s largest solar panel company leaderless

Thin-film solar photovoltaic modules being installed on a roof. Click for more info on thin-film PV

Strange happenings at the nation’s largest solar panel manufacturer. The company, First Solar, reported record profits thru 2009 and 2010, fueled in large part by new plants equipped with a series of design and production breakthroughs to produce affordable, high-efficiency cadmium telluride thin-film photovoltaic modules. But the good times were short-lived, and today events may have taken an abrupt turn for the worse:

First Solar shocked investors and industry analysts alike by announcing on Tuesday that it had fired CEO Robert Gillette and asked former CEO and company founder Mike Ahearn to replace him in an interim spot until a new permanent leader could be found. Shares of First Solar, which had already declined 63 percent throughout the past year, nosedived, falling over 25 percent in the hours following the announcement.

It’s too bad Mr. Gillette works in the clean energy industry. That’s the wrong line of work. If only Gillette had cost taxpayers billions by presiding over the worst oil spill in history or nuked the most successful investment banks in the world, he’d not only be assured of a sweet job in perpetuity, he’d probably be collecting monster bonuses for the rest of his life.


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