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Electric-car charging company led by Pitt business grad and funded by taxpayers on verge of collapse

A series of business failures, technical glitches and government investigations has pushed a stimulus-backed, green-vehicle charging company to the brink of collapse despite more than $100 million in federal grants.

“Although the company is currently exploring options for a restructuring or sale of the entire business and/or assets of the company, the company may need to file a petition commencing a case under the United States Bankruptcy Code,” Ecotality CEO H. Ravi Brar, a University of Pittsburgh graduate, said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made public on Monday.

Ecotality’s shares on Monday plunged 79.5 percent, or $1.16, to close at 30 cents.

The San Francisco-based company put more than 12,000 electric-vehicle chargers in U.S. cities as part of a Department of Energy-backed initiative called the EV Project and through its Blink network. Ecotality’s SEC filing shows it on a course toward joining other failed green-energy companies that got federal help.

The Energy Department suspended payments to Ecotality after the company warned government funders last week about its poor sales performance and other issues. The company received nearly $98 million of about $115 million it expected from the department for the EV Project.

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, said department spokesman Bill Gibbons. He said the company completed about 97 percent of its work to “establish the seeds of infrastructure needed to support a growing market for advanced vehicles.”

Brar, who received his MBA from Pitt’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business in 1991, did not respond to a request for comment.

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