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Solar energy developer with LI projects at risk of bankruptcy

A Missouri-based renewable energy developer that is under contract to develop commercial solar-energy projects from Wantagh to East Hampton faces the “substantial risk” of a bankruptcy filing, a subsidiary said in a financial filing this week, and the company is “not performing” on at least two Long Island projects.

Meanwhile, the developer, SunEdison Inc., based in Maryland Heights, Missouri, confirmed Thursday it has received a subpoena from the U.S. Justice Department into “allegations of wrongdoing” by a former employee, among other things, and that it is under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company has been in a financial spotlight since it delayed filing its annual report for the year ended Dec. 31 following allegations made by a current and a former employee that questioned the accuracy of its financial statements. The company has $12 billion in debt from an acquisition binge.

SunEdison shares have plummeted to 56 cents this week from a high of $32.17 last summer. A spokesman didn’t return calls seeking comment.

At least one Long Island town said the company appears to have breached its contract.

East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell said Thursday that SunEdison was “not performing on schedule and some of their vendors have mechanics liens against them.”

“For all practical purposes they should be almost complete right now but they’ve barely started,” he said. “They are not performing under their contract with the town and they could be in breach of contract, in which case we could take immediate action to terminate their contract and seek another vendor.”

SunEdison, which bills itself as the world’s largest renewable energy company, announced last May that it had secured agreements with Suffolk and Nassau counties, the towns of Southold and East Hampton, and the Suffolk County Water Authority to install 14 megawatts of solar arrays on nine municipal parcels. The proposed lots included the Cedar Creek sewage treatment plant in Wantagh, Gabreski Airport in Westhampton and town-owned parcels in Southold and East Hampton. A megawatt of solar powers around 160 homes.

PSEG Long Island’s website lists all the projects as “in construction.” A PSEG spokesman said the utility doesn’t expect a bankruptcy filing will affect completion of the projects.

Suffolk County spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said the SunEdison project under a lease agreement with Suffolk was “not ‘under construction’ at this time,” but said, “We hope to see construction in the coming months and that it will be producing energy before the end of the year.”

Nassau County spokesman Brian Nevin said, “The infrastructure is already fully in place. The project is awaiting connectivity from Verizon and LIPA. We do not anticipate that bankruptcy would impact the project.”

The Suffolk County Water Authority’s projects with SunEdison, including one on a parcel of land the authority owns on Coates Avenue in Holbrook, have been shelved, said spokesman Tim Motz. Objections from residents to the arrays were the primary reason, he said.

A Southold official couldn’t be reached.

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