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USA: Electric car charging station project in limbo

FBI said to be looking into 350Green’s project for drivers of electric vehicles in Chicago, 19 other markets

About 169 of the 280 charging stations 350Green promised to have in place by the end of 2011 in the Chicago area have been installed. Most of those are operational. (Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune / December 4, 2011)

Three years ago, a Los Angeles firm named 350Green was picked to build a large network of charging stations for electric vehicles in the Chicago area. Other contracts soon followed in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, California and Kansas.

The project, which put Chicago on the map as an early adopter of electric car technology, is now in limbo, with 350Green soon to be replaced by another company amid evidence of unpaid bills and accounting issues. Several hundred charging stations were supposed to have been installed by 350Green before the end of 2011, but work stopped some time ago, the company said. Projects by the company in 19 other markets also have been halted.

Two Chicago-area contractors working on the project, and others with direct knowledge of the situation, told the Tribune the FBI has been examining the 350Green project. The status of the investigation isn’t clear. The FBI declined to comment.

Hundreds of pages of documents obtained by the Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act show that 350Green submitted copies of checks to the city in order to receive state and federal grant money.

The checks show contractors were paid. But three contractors contacted by the Tribune said they hadn’t received those checks and had been paid only a portion of what they were owed overall. In the hope of getting reimbursed, some have filed liens against retailers that agreed to host charging stations
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