SolarWindow Story Deserves More Skepticism

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Dana Blankenhorn

Back in December I wrote skeptically of New Energy Technologies Inc., (NENE) whose SolarWindow was written-up here in September, mainly as a result of this press release.

The press release drew press coverage, including an October mention by CNBC anchor Erin Burnett. I should add here Ms. Burnett has not done a Maxim cover shoot – the photo by the story is a fake.

But is the story a fake?

Since the fall NENE has been on a roll, rising in price from about 60 cents to over $1.60. NENE chart

The company says it has appointed a new CFO with an impressive resume.  (but noted it’s not his full-time job). So after seeing yet-another mention of the company today I did a little checking.

Skeptics are not hard to find. The blog Sanity Defense used the phrase pump and dump for this company in November.  Stock Gumshoe laughed at the company’s publicity and the author of its press materials. [Ed. note: See Tom Konrad’s Oct 30 take here.]

NENE, it turns out, is not this company’s original name. Until January 2009 it was known as Octillion, The name changed a few months after it appointed Harmel Rayat as its secretary-treasurer.

During the Internet Bubble Mr. Rayat ran an outfit called EquityAlert, which the SEC charged with being an e-mail “pump and dump” house. In 2007 Canada Stockwatch ran a “profile” of Mr. Rayat detailing several of his “deals” at which point Seeking Alpha ran a story titled “Stay Away from Octillion.” Other commenters have been more blunt – stay away from Rayat, they warn. 

So in 2007 Octillion, with Rayat at the helm, claimed to own solar patents which are New Energy Tech’s business. But its July 2007 prospectus shows it only notes a license to commercialize patents held by the University of Illinois. Three years later the company was saying its technology came from the University of South Florida  – previous agreements were canceled for undisclosed reasons, according to Stock Gumshoe.

Rayat is listed in SEC documents last May as owning 43% of the company, through something called Alberta Ltd.  He recently sold over 36 million shares of NENE.  The sales were described in a filing last December.

If you’re looking for Mr. Rayat, in other words, he’s long gone. Flickr has a picture of him at a 2009 Vancouver restaurant opening. He looks happy.

NENE, meanwhile, keeps on logging the column inches. Here is a description of the company’s latest demonstration at Gizmag, which doesn’t seem aware that Octillion and NENE are the same outfit. Glass Magazine ran with the release too. The press release, published at the Penny Stock Blog, headlines this as the “largest solar window” yet shown and another step toward commercial development.

The current CEO is John Conklin, who is said to have a quarter-century of experience in renewable energy and industrial processes. But does he?

He is said to be founder of National Solar Systems LLC of New York – but that company is (according to the Web site linked from his profile) based in Saudi Arabia. He’s also listed as founder of Tellurium Associates LLC. He calls it “an industrial and environmental process design and operations consulting Company.”  It’s listed as an environmental consultant in a small commercial building currently available for sale at $32/sq.ft

Anyone starting to smell a rat, using our hopes and dreams to steal our money and reputation? I am.

Dana Blankenhorn first covered the energy industries in 1978 with the Houston Business Journal. He returned last month after a short 29 year hiatus because it’s the best business story of our time. In between he covered PCs, the Internet, e-commerce, open source, the I
nternet of Things and Moore’s Law. It’s the application of the last to harvesting the energy all around us he’s most excited about. He lives in Atlanta.


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