When Stion Corp., a manufacturer of thin film solar panels, announced in October that it would close its Hattiesburg, Mississippi operations, the Mississippi Business Journal called it “the latest failure of the Barbour years” – referring, of course, to former Governor Haley Barbour’s ambitious endeavor to establish Mississippi as a leader in green energy.
Throughout his tenure, he led millions in state investments in green technology manufacturing and, since then, four high profile projects have gone belly up.
It’s estimated that Barbour’s initiative has left Mississippi taxpayers on the hook for $185 million in tax breaks and incentives they’ve provided for this sector, but the former governor isn’t shouldering all the blame here: an auditor with the state of Mississippi is hitting back hard against Stion, ruling this week that the failed solar panel maker owes the state $93 million.
In a letter delivered to Stion, auditor Stacey Pickering details the state’s suffering at the hands of the panel maker. Stion borrowed $75 million in order to set up shop, failed to pay $2 million in property taxes and also owes $16 million in interest.