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USA: Congressman Seeks Answers on Stimulus-Backed Company Ecotality

Congress is asking questions about a stimulus-backed electric vehicle company that received millions in taxpayer dollars even after the Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation into the company for insider trading.

Ecotality, which manufactures charging stations for electric vehicles, was hit with an SEC subpoena in October 2010, a development first reported by Scribe. It had already received nearly $90 million in Energy Department grants as part of the stimulus package. Even after the SEC investigation started, it received another $26 million.

The company was a poster child of the administration’s effort to get a million plugin hybrid electric vehicles on the road by 2015. President Obama lauded Ecotality specifically in his 2011 State of the Union Address, as did Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

But despite the administration’s accolades and the nearly $115 million in taxpayer support, Ecotality has struggled financially, and has only managed to produce less than 7,000 electric vehicle charging stations – less than half of the 15,000 for which it received taxpayer money.

These issues were all raised in a letter (embedded below) to Chu sent by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) on Tuesday. Harris, who chairs the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee on Science, Space, and Technology, requested:
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