The Energy Department has yet to comply with a congressional request for information on a stimulus-backed company under investigation for insider trading and facing serious financial difficulties.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who chairs the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee on Science, Space, and Technology, asked Energy Secretary Steven Chu for “a detailed summary of the Ecotality project” in a letter in late March.
Ecotality is a poster-child for the administration’s push to get a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. The company manufactures charging stations for those vehicles, but after receiving more than $115 million to install those charging stations, Ecotality is far behind schedule.
As Scribe reported last year, Ecotality is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for insider trading. Scribe’s three-part series examined the subpoena sent to the CEO of an Ecotality subsidiary, the company’s political connections, and its tenuous financial footing.
Harris said DOE had not responded to his request by the April 13 deadline. In an exclusive interview with Scribe, he said he would give DOE “until the middle of next week” before exploring other avenues for obtaining the requested information.
“We hate to bring it to Oversight,” Harris said, referring to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. While he stressed that he will continue to try to work with DOE, “in the end you could always subpoena” the agency for the information.
Harris voiced concern over DOE’s decision to award Ecotality an additional $26 million, even as the SEC opened its investigation and the company struggled to fulfill its obligations under the stimulus awards. “Was anybody paying attention over at the Department of Energy,” he asked “or was this just on autopilot?”
The Ecotality experience, Harris explained, are indicative of the administration’s larger “green energy” policy. “It’s like groundhog day,” he said. “We get up every day and the same thing is happening. It’s Solyndra, then it’s Ener1, and now it’s Ecotality.”