Battery Maker A123’s Bankruptcy Drawing Scrutiny Of Obama’s Green Stimulus Before Debate

Source: Tom Zeller Jr. / The Huffington Post

With the second presidential debate just hours away, a bankruptcy announced Tuesday by a company that received federal stimulus funding under President Barack Obama threatened to provide new ammunition for critics of the president’s energy and environmental spending and put the White House on the defensive.

The company, A123 Systems, Inc., a maker of advanced batteries, received a $249 million grant in August 2009, as part of the Obama administration’s federal stimulus package. The grant allowed the company to open manufacturing facilities in Michigan — one of which was marked at its grand opening in September 2010 with aphone call from President Obama.

“You guys are making us proud,” the president said, according to a White House transcript. “The work you’re doing will help power the American economy for years to come. And so everybody there should just feel very, very good about what you guys are doing. And I am looking forward to continuing to see the great work that you guys do in the years to come.”

A123 announced on its website Thursday that it would be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and selling its automotive operations to Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls for $125 million. As part of the deal, Johnson Controls would license back to A123 “certain technology for its grid, commercial and government businesses,” which may also be sold in the future, according to a company statement.

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