Electric car battery maker A123 Systems received a $946,830 check from the U.S. Energy Department on the day it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month -- providing more ammunition for critics who say the Obama administration is blindly funding failed clean energy companies.
The Waltham, Mass.-based company also told two U.S. senators in a letter this week that it may seek more money from the $249.1-million Energy Department stimulus award it won in 2009. A123's Oct. 16 check was the latest payment as part of the original grant, which is distributed incrementally as the company meets certain benchmarks. A123 has received $133.3 million of the grant so far based on its investments in new battery plants in Livonia and Romulus, Mich.
"If A123 (or an acquirer) needs to expand and/or update its current U.S. manufacturing capacity beyond current capacity, then it is possible that it may desire to take advantage of some or all of the remaining grant funds to do so," A123 Vice President and General Counsel Eric Pyenson told U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and John Thune in a Nov. 14 letter.
The senators in October wrote a letter to A123 with questions about the company's contracts and Energy Department funding.