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SunEdison Under SEC Scrutiny As Bankruptcy Looms

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into SunEdison to see whether or not the company exaggerated its cash on hand in disclosures last year. The news comes as the solar developer is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

The solar company has seen its stock collapse since last year as mounting debt problems have raised concerns about the company’s ability to keep the lights on. SunEdison’s share price is off by 96 percent since last July. That has translated to a decline of the company’s market capitalization from $10 billion last summer to just $400 million today.

Related: Even Utilities Are Starting To Get Behind Community Solar

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SunEdison even delayed the release of a financial statement because unnamed current and former employees had concerns about the accuracy of the figures they were set to submit.

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At the same time that SunEdison’s accounting practices are raising red flags, there are also rising rumors that the company is nearing bankruptcy. According to an SEC filing submitted by TerraForm Global, a subsidiary of SunEdison, the parent company is facing a “substantial risk” of bankruptcy.

Related: Does Saudi Arabia’s Play For Market Share Make Sense?

The problems at SunEdison really blew up into the spotlight when its $1.9 billion takeover of Vivint fell through. But the trouble began much earlier than that. As of late 2015, according to the WSJ, SunEdison had stopped paying suppliers and contractors as its cash position ran low.

SunEdison had heavily pushed the yieldco model, a corporate structure that became very popular several years ago but has since fallen out of favor. Yieldcos consist of spun off power projects that have predictable cash flows, but many of them have run into trouble.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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