Solar Energy

Matinee Energy Distances Itself From Shady Founder, but Questions Remain in Plans to Build Several Large Solar-Power Plants in Arizona

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In February, Matinee announced a "groundbreaking" for a "solar campus" in another part of Benson.

And in October, Hyundai Heavy told Bloomberg Businessweek that it had not abandoned plans to build large solar-power plants in Arizona with Matinee.

Matinee claims to be a major source of solar-power-plant financing and experience, and would become one of Arizona's biggest solar players if plans to build plants totaling hundreds of mega-watts come through. Yet the company shows signs of being under-funded -- most visibly in its amateurish Web site, which appears under a new domain name. The company's previous domain,, doesn't even forward to the new URL. Throughout February, Matinee's phone number connected with a voicemail that was frequently too full to take messages.

Another enigmatic company called Metroby, which has contacted the city of Benson in connection with the Matinee project, lists Matinee Energy on its Web site as one of three partners, the other two being an international attorneys office and New Jersey's Lucas Capital Management.

Here's what Mary Beth Glaccum, Lucas Capital's director of Investment Relations and Business Development, told us in an e-mail when we inquired about Metroby: "We do not have any relationship with this organization and have contacted our attorneys to take appropriate action."

Glaccum later clarified her response, stating in another e-mail that, "We do not know or have any relationship (past or present) with any of the enities or parties you have listed."

Meanwhile, Matinee is trying to distance itself from one of its founders, Christopher Pannos, a Nevadan man who ran a bogus gold-mining scheme in the 1980s in Arizona.

New Times reported the connection in August of 2010, a few days after Matinee reportedly inked a deal with South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy to build solar plants in Dragoon and Cochise. Back then, Matinee vice-president Chris Connell told us that Christopher Pannos wasn't an employee of the company, even though he was listed as a manager of the company in Nevada corporate records. Those older records also showed brother Michael Pannos and Nevada resident Larry Knight as principles.

Michael Pannos was the chairman of the company at the time of the Hyundai deal announcement, according to one of Matinee's news releases.

Yet "based upon records," the Pannos brothers no longer have role with the company, Matinee representative David Lee told New Times in late February.

Lee did not clarify the statement.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.