Obama-backed electric car charging company eyes bankruptcy

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The woes of the company, one of several backed by the Energy Department to face financial problems or bankruptcy, are sure to renew criticism of federal green-tech loan guarantee and grant programs.

But an Energy Department spokesman said Monday that the funding for an electric vehicle project by ECOtality achieved its goal.

“The Energy Department’s grant to ECOtality was used for the installation and data collection of charging stations in cities across America where sales of plug-in electric cars are on the rise. Meant to establish the seeds of infrastructure needed to support a growing market for advanced vehicles, the company installed more than 12,500 charging stations in 18 U.S. cities — or approximately 97 percent of their goal,” spokesman Bill Gibbons said.

And Energy Department supporters say that despite some failures, such as the ill-fated loan guarantee for the solar panel company Solyndra, the federal support for green energy companies has been a success overall.

ECOtality's new SEC filing notes an array of problems now facing the company that has business lines involved in electric vehicle charging, and vehicle testing, planning and analysis.

The various problems, according to the filing, include insufficient sales of its commercial Electric Vehicle Service Equipment; “inability to release a scheduled new product offering in its Minit Charger industrial line;” and failure to obtain new outside financing.

The Energy Department is also not allowing new costs under the small remainder of the $100 million grant that has not been awarded. The company has already received $97.7 million, according to the department.

Ecotality retained FTI Consulting to help with seeking new financing, facilitate a potential sale of the company or its assets, and other assistance.

—This post was updated at 5:14 p.m.

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