Delaware taxpayers increasingly on the hook as Fisker auto plant idles

by
January 6, 2013

Biden at Fisker
Delaware taxpayers appear to be getting soaked twice under a deal in which the Democratic governor loaned $21.5 million to a hybrid electric carmaker to set up shop in the state. The company has yet to produce a car in Delaware, and taxpayers are footing the electric bill for the idle plant.

The deal was enthusiastically announced in 2009 by Gov. Jack Markell and Vice President Biden — formerly Delaware’s senior senator — as a way to bring as many as 2,500 green jobs to the state. But California-based Fisker Automotive Inc. has since suffered a series of setbacks that have compounded its shaky financial situation.

“It has not worked out the way he had envisioned,” Markell spokeswoman Cathy Rossi acknowledged Monday in a statement to FoxNews.com. “We didn’t know and couldn’t have known about the underlying technical and financial problems.”

Delaware reportedly has paid at least $400,000 in utility bills since about April, when Fisker halted operations and laid off dozens of workers at the 142-acre, Wilmington-area facility. Markell staffers told The News Journal the payments are part of the grant deal and necessary to at least keep Fisker’s small-scale operation on life support.

Fisker opened for business in 2007, and its early problems were largely related to such technical issues as steering and emissions.

However, in February the U.S. Energy Department stopped disbursements on Fisker’s $529 million loan because the company purportedly failed to meet production and sales goals on its electric plug-in sedan, the Karma.

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