The president’s energy agenda took a hit on Thursday, as yet another stimulus-backed energy company filed for bankruptcy. Videos have surfaced since then showing both Obama and Vice President Biden praising the company’s promise, drawing the attention of congressional investigators.
As Scribe reported yesterday, Ener1 submitted a pre-packaged bankruptcy plan as part of a refinancing agreement after suffering numerous setbacks late last year. Ener1 subsidiary EnerDel received a $118 million grant from the Energy Department to produce its lithium ion battery technology.
The president singled out EnerDel for praise during a speech in Elkhart County, Indiana, during which he announced $2.4 billion in stimulus spending on battery technology for hybrid and electric cars. Stimulus grants such as the one given to EnerDel, the president claimed, would “create tens of thousands of jobs all across America.”
Biden, during a visit to Ener1’s Indianapolis factory, said “Enron1 [is] leading the way” in battery technology, apparently confusing the company’s name with the notorious energy firm that filed for bankruptcy in 2001. The stimulus, Biden said, was “not just creating new jobs, but sparking whole new industries that will ensure our competitiveness for decades to come — industries like electric vehicle manufacturing.”
House Republicans seized on the Vice President’s verbal flub, calling it “a seemingly unintentional but ultimately prescient reference to the collapse of the energy giant Enron,” in the words of a House Energy and Commerce news release.
That panel’s lead investigator, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who has also led the investigation into bankrupt solar company Solyndra, lamented the addition of Ener1 “to the growing list of failed companies that went belly up after hundreds of millions of dollars in administration backing.”