Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) said she is "working with" the Department of Energy to revive the department's dormant $25 billion auto loan program, which has not closed a loan in two years, and extend it to auto suppliers.
That program, the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program (ATVM), issued a $5.9 billion loan to Ford, as well as awarding hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to green car makers like Tesla and the struggling Fisker.
In an interview, Stabenow said she wants the program opened to auto suppliers and said she raised the issue with Ernest Moniz, a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has been nominated to replace Steven Chu as energy secretary. "We're working with the department… to get it back on track," Stabenow said. "(Moniz) agrees there is a need. The need's not gone away." […]
"Everybody kind of backed away after Solyndra, even though (the auto loan program) had nothing to with Solyndra," Stabenow said. […]
Asked if a Fisker bankruptcy could hinder the program further, Stabenow said each applicant should be considered individually. "We have to look at each individual case," Stabenow said.
Fisker Automotive, which was originally awarded a $529 million loan, is expected to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection within the next week after failed buyout talks with Chinese firms. DOE froze Fisker's loan in 2011; the company received an estimated $192 million in federal money.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have planned an April 24 hearing on the Fisker loan.
The ATVM is currently sitting on $16.6 billion, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.