EPV Solar Inc., one of the largest green tech employers in the area just two years ago, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In 2007 the company reeled in more than $77 million in financing to develop and market low-cost, thin-film solar panels, and used much of the money to hire nearly 400 people to work in its Robbinsville facility. The company had expected the growth to generate mass market sales and roughly $1 billion in sales.

But according to bankruptcy papers filed by EPV in February, the company stated that a sharp falloff in sales after the Wall Street collapse of 2008 has left it with almost $11 million in unsecured debt. As a result, approximately 350 workers, most from the immediate area surrounding EPV’s Marlen Drive headquarters, were let go by the beginning of the following summer.

According to the filing, about $3.6 million is owed to Patriarch Partners, a New York-based private-equity firm that agreed to loan the money to EPV while it settled a $52. 5 million deal to sell its assets to an energy company based in Turkey. That deal fell through, however, and the company’s debt to Patriarch could mean that Patriarch will acquire EPV’s assets.

No such announcement has yet been made. Calls to EPV were not returned, and attempts to reach CEO Scott Massie were not successful.

Founded in 1991, EPV became a darling of the state’s green tech sector, growing steadily and hopefully as solar technologies improved and became more commercially viable. It even won an award for having the best alternative technology in 2008 from the International Renewable Energy Organization.

By the following year EPV stopped manufacturing entirely, here and at its manufacturing center in Germany. That center opened at the end of 2008.

EPV Solar Inc., 8 Marlen Drive, Robbinsville 08691; 609-587-3000; fax, 609-587-5355. Scott T. Massie, CEO. Home page: www.epvsolar.com.

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