In the wake of Solyndra's abrupt closure last week, local politicians and those in Washington are calling for investigations into the events that led to the solar company's demise.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, last Friday called for Solyndra's chief executive officer to provide compensation and benefits to all 1,100 employees his firm laid off Aug. 31.

Stark alleged the firm's actions may violate provisions of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

Created in 1988, the WARN Act protects workers from the hardships associated with being laid off abruptly. Firms with more than 100 employees must give them advance notice of an impending layoff and 60 days of pay and benefits under the act.

"The decision by Solyndra's executives to terminate more than 1,000 of its hardworking employees without warning and to immediately cut off further payment and benefits was reckless, irresponsible and heartless," Stark said. "It may also be illegal. I urge Solyndra's leaders to quickly revisit their decision and do right by their employees."

Stark sent CEO Brian Harrison a letter urging him to provide such benefits as soon as possible.

However, in the letter, Stark said whether the act applies to Solyndra may be a matter for courts to decide.

He added the firm has to prove its inability to meet the conditions of the WARN Act.

Harrison was unavailable for comment last week. But David Miller, Solyndra's director of corporate communications, said the firm is aware of Stark's letter.


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"We were negotiating financing until the last minutes, which is why it was not filed earlier," Miller said of its inability to file with WARN.

Miller said the company filed its WARN Act papers last Wednesday morning as it announced the closing.

He said approximately 1,000 of Solyndra's employees worked at its location in southern Fremont. A facility at 1210 California Circle in Milpitas had closed previously and about 100 workers there moved into jobs at the Fremont site.

In addition to Stark calling for Solyndra to aid its employees, other politicians are calling for investigations into the firm and its funding.

Last Friday, House of Representative investigators announced they uncovered evidence the White House had become involved in the U.S. Department of Energy's review of the $535 million in funds the firm was granted last year.

According to reports, House Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said he planned to accelerate efforts to understand a deal that may have left taxpayers out more than half a billion dollars.

Upton's letter also called for the White House to turn over correspondence between the Obama administration, Solyndra and its investors.

White House officials stated last week they did not intervene in the loan process. However, both President Barack Obama and Department of Energy staffers had praised the funding last year.

Obama visited the firm in May 2010 to tour its facilities located at 47700 Kato Road, where he praised the firm as an example of how green-tech companies deliver jobs.

Solyndra used the $535 million loan guarantee to construct its second fabrication facility on Kato Road just down the street from company headquarters, which was expected to have an annual manufacturing capacity of 500 megawatts per year.

The facility created 3,000 construction jobs and an additional 1,000 green-tech jobs once the new building was finished.

Hundreds of additional jobs were supposed to be created for the installation of Solyndra PV systems in the United States, the firm claimed.

The firm estimated Fab 2 would produce solar panels sufficient to generate up to 15 gigawatts of clean, renewable electricity enough to avoid 300 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

The firm announced the morning of Aug. 31 it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing a staggering global market and solar industry conditions.

Founded in 2005, Solyndra designed and manufactured solar photovoltaic panels and mounts for the commercial rooftop market.

The company claimed it had installed its systems on more than 1,000 rooftops in more than 20 countries.

Contact Wes Bowers at wbowers@themilpitaspost.com or 510-661-9920. Visit us on our social media sites at facebook.com/milpitas post and twitter.com/milpitaspost.