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Bankruptcy filing

About a year after the US wind industry's last major bankruptcy, FloWind Corp has announced it is seeking Chapter 11 protection from creditors while it reorganises its business affairs under the US Bankruptcy Code. The announcement, made during the Windpower '97 conference in Texas last month, depressed the industry but was not unexpected. FloWind, based in San Rafael, California, was known to be struggling financially more than a year ago (Windpower Monthly, July 1996).

Prior to the announcement, however, the company said it had entered a co-development agreement with an unnamed European wind turbine manufacturer and its construction partner to fully develop its Altamont Pass and Tehachapi wind sites. The bankruptcy filing was apparently required by the unidentified manufacturer before it would enter the co-development agreement, according to one industry insider.

FloWind said the arrangement would be implemented over the next 18 months and that the repowering and sale of its existing California wind plants, with the aid and credibility of its co-developer, will allow the company to successfully emerge from bankruptcy protection.

FloWind, known for its "egg-beater" vertical-axis machines, is one of the oldest manufacturers and developers in the US wind industry. It took over Advanced Wind Turbines Inc (AWT), headed by long time wind man Bob Lynette. The company's bankruptcy filing comes a year after Kenetech Windpower voluntarily sought bankruptcy protection in May 1996.

Lynette confirms the bankruptcy filing was made in federal court on June 17 but declines to comment further. The company, however, clarified the situation. Bankruptcy was sought, it said, to relieve creditor pressure resulting from difficulties in liquidating its wind turbine inventories for repowering the Altamont and Tehachapi projects. It noted that in 1995 it had contracted to sell AWT-27 turbines to customers in India and had built inventories to fill the order -- but that its Indian customers were unable to pay for the equipment.

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