House Republican Says ‘Three Is A Trend’ in Another Stimulus-Funded Green Company Bankruptcy

January 27, 2012 - 10:15 AM

(CNSNews.com) – The third federally subsidized green energy company to declare bankruptcy seems to indicate a pattern, said Rep. Cliff Stearns, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations.

“One bankruptcy may be a fluke, two could be coincidence, but three is a trend,” Stearns said in a written statement. “Our investigation continues, and we are working to ensure taxpayers never are never again stuck paying hundreds of millions of dollars because of the administration’s risky bets.”

 

Joe Biden Visits Ener1 in 2011. (AP Photo)

Joe Biden visits Ener1 plant in 2011. (AP Photo)

Ener1, which makes batteries for electric vehicles, announced Thursday it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company had been awarded a $118.5 million from the Energy Department through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus.

 

The Obama administration has already been under fire for a $535 million stimulus-funded loan it made to California-based solar panel company Solyndra, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last fall before being raided by the FBI. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has been investigating the Solyndra loan.Also late last fall, the Massachusetts-based Beacon Power, green energy storage plant that got $43 million in stimulus funds, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Ener1 announced the Chapter 11 filing one year to the day that Vice President Joe Biden visited a Greenville, Ind. plant on Jan. 26, 2011.

“President Obama was prophetic this week during his State of the Union address when he casually remarked, ‘Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail,’” Stearns said.

In his 2011 State of the Union address, Obama pledged to put 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. The next day, Biden visited an Ener1 plant in Greenville, Ind., where he said, “Well, ladies and gentlemen, here at Ener1, we’re going to harness electricity and bring it to the world like Edison did more than a century ago,” said Biden. “We're going to reshape the way Americans drive, the way Americans consume, the way Americans power their lives.”

Ener1 makes at least the third company that received money from the Recovery Act to file for bankruptcy protection.

“Unfortunately, you can now add Ener1 to the growing list of failed companies that went belly up after hundreds of millions of dollars in administration backing,” Stearns continued. “Sadly, the Department of Energy’s jobs record seems to grow worse by the day -- first Solyndra, then Beacon Power, and now Ener1 -- and it is American taxpayers who are paying the price.”

CNSNews.com first reported Thursday that the bankruptcy announcement came a year after the Biden visit.

Ener1 spokesman Guy Westermeyer told CNSNews.com the Chapter 11 filing would not effect the federal grant. He said the grant specifically went to Ener1 subsidiary EnderDel.

"EnerDel plans to continue working with the DOE to complete the project for which it received funding through the ARRA grant it was awarded in August, 2009," Westermeyer told CNSNews.com in a written statement. He added,  "EnerDel proactively applied for a grant from the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) to help create a lithium-ion battery market industry in the U.S, where one did not previously exist."