BARRE, Vt. (AP) – The wind-power company Northern Power Systems is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as a way to make it easier to find a buyer, officials said.

Northern Power’s filing came after the company defaulted on loans on June 3, making $18.5 million in outstanding loans to one lender due and payable, said federal documents.

Officials say they don’t expect the bankruptcy filings to change the operations at Northern Power or Proton Energy, another company owned by parent company Distributed Energy Systems Corp., of Wallingford, Conn.

Proton Energy, which designs, develops, sells and manufactures onsite hydrogen gas delivery systems, did not file for bankruptcy.

Northern Power employs 81 people at its plant in the town of Barre. “Management’s intent is to maintain the value of all of its stakeholders, including its employees here in Vermont,” said Northern Power spokeswoman Maureen McCracken. “The business fundamentals are there for our company. We are in an emerging and high-growth market and boast a technologically superior product, so we are well positioned for future success.”

Distributed Energy CEO Bernard Cherry said the Chapter 11 process would be used to complete the sale of Northern Power and Proton Energy.

Distributed Energy was created after the 2003 merger of Northern Power and Proton Energy, a hydrogen power company. Distributed Energy has reportedly secured a $2 million line of credit that will help it meet payroll, pay vendors and provide uninterrupted service to its customers during the Chapter 11 process.

Officials say there are a number of companies interested in buying Northern Power.

The bankruptcy filing was Wednesday in Delaware.

Northern Power was created in 1974. Following the 2003 merger it employed about 200 people.

AP-ES-06-07-08 0948EDT

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