Electric Bus Company Proterra Backed Heavily by Biden Administration Files for Bankruptcy  

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a tour of Thomas Built Buses production plant i
Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo, Kena Betancur/Getty Images, ProterraInc/Facebook.com

Proterra, an electric bus company that received heavy backing from President Joe Biden’s administration, filed for bankruptcy on Monday.

The Burlingame, California-based EV company has been a source of controversy for the Biden administration because Biden’s Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm hyped the company in her official capacity despite the fact that she previously served on Proterra’s board and held over a million dollars worth of stock in the company even after she was confirmed as the head of Biden’s Energy Department.

Proterra was founded in 2004 and, according to Canary Media, had raised “about $682 million in venture capital from investors including Daimler, Generation Investment Management, Kleiner Perkins, Tao Capital Partners, Soros Fund Management, Cowen Sustainable Advisors and GM Ventures to build electric buses that gained a foothold in early North American deployments.”

Biden has heavily promoted Proterra throughout his presidency, at one point saying the company would help America own “the future” if it kept on track. Three months into his presidency, Biden held a virtual tour of the electric bus company’s South Carolina factory to promote his $1.9 trillion infrastructure plan.

“Right now we’re running way behind China, but you guys are getting us in the game,” Biden said during the virtual tour. “We’re going to end up owning the future, I think, if we keep doing what we’re doing.” A few months before, Proterra announced it would merge with ArcLight Clean Transition. As a result of Biden’s virtual tour, shares in ArcLight reportedly “spiked.”

Biden’s promotion of Proterra continued when he highlighted his tour of the Proterra factory during a trip to Wisconsin in June 2021 to promote his infrastructure agenda.

In November 2021, Granholm and Vice President Kamala Harris announced 25 projects that were awarded $200 million in Department of Energy grants, which included $127 million in “SuperTruck 3” grants. Notably, roughly $76.8 million of the $127.8 million SuperTruck 3 grants announced went to a company with ties to Proterra, giving these Proterra-linked companies garnered more than 60 percent of the grants, as Breitbart News detailed.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a tour of Thomas Built Buses production plant in High Point, North Carolina, on April 19, 2021. The green Proterra logo is visible on the charger station next to the buses. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Further, Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg teamed up in December 2021 to promote Proterra at an event where the company’s buses were used as a backdrop.

Biden also touted Proterra’s investments during a March 2022 speech. In February of this year, Biden appointed Proterra CEO Gareth Joyce to serve on his Export Council, which provides Biden with advice on international trade.

Despite this massive push from the Biden administration, Proterra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, citing “various market and macroeconomic headwinds” that have impacted its business.

Vice President Kamala Harris (left) and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (right) tour the electric vehicle operations at Charlotte Area Transit Systems bus garage in Charlotte, North Carolina, on December 2, 2020. (LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)

“While our best-in-class EV and battery technologies have set an industry standard, we have faced various market and macroeconomic headwinds, that have impacted our ability to efficiently scale all of our opportunities simultaneously,” Joyce said in a statement. “As commercial vehicles accelerate toward electrification, we look forward to sharpening our focus as a leading EV battery technology supplier for the benefit of our many stakeholders.”

Proterra shares dropped more than 60 percent in after-hours trading on Monday.

The company’s failure drew a comparison to Solyndra, an alternative energy company that went bankrupt after receiving a $534 million loan guarantee under former President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus package. The Obama-Biden White House attempted to improperly rush federal regulators to approve the loan so Biden could announce it at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company’s factor, Washington Post reported at the time.

“President Biden’s decision to heavily promote a business where his energy secretary holds a multimillion-dollar stake has all the potential to be even worse than Solyndra,” Sen. Ted Cruz told the Washington Free Beacon in 2021. “President Biden and Secretary Granholm should immediately remove themselves from their glaring conflict of interest.”

Granholm joined Proterra’s board in March 2017, aspiring to launch the company into the “next phase of strategic growth and national deployment,” according to a press release.

Then, Biden nominated Granholm to lead the U.S. Department of Energy in December 2020. She was ultimately confirmed on February 25, 2021. However, Granholm continued to hold up 240,520 Proterra shares, estimated to be worth up to $5 million, for several months into her tenure as Energy Secretary while Biden promoted the company.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks at an event at a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on November 1, 2021, where Granholm announced $127 million in new federal grants for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that produce zero carbon emissions. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Granholm’s critics criticized her for promoting the company in an official capacity and hyping grant access to companies connected to Proterra while she held her shares. Some argued that Granholm, Biden, and the rest of the administration increased the company’s visibility, potentially increasing the value of her shares.

As Breitbart News extensively reported:

Granholm’s promotion of the Burlingame, California electric vehicle company came at the same time that Democrats in Congress were crafting—and ultimately passing—Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, which dramatically increases Granholm’s authority as energy secretary to advance private sector companies in the transition to an electric vehicle-based transportation infrastructure. The infrastructure package — which has been promoted by Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Granholm, Biden’s Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and other members of the administration — grants as much as $174 billion to green vehicles and $45 billion to zero-emission buses to “replace 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrify at least 20 percent of our yellow school bus fleet” and “to build a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030.”

Granholm did not sell her shares in Proterra until May 24, 2020, 88 days after her confirmation and 175 days after her nomination.

As Breitbart News further detailed:

On April 6, Granholm signed a document that listed the stocks she had divested from; however, she left out her 240,520 shares of Proterra, which she estimated at the time to be worth up to $5 million, according to the full financial disclosure report she submitted four days after her nomination. Her investment in Proterra was her largest stock asset, equal in value to her home in Oakland, California, which she also valued as being worth up to $5 million. These two assets – her Proterra stock and her home – were the largest assets listed on Granholm’s financial disclosure form.

While Granholm continued to hold these Proterra stocks, her duties as energy secretary put her in a position to potentially benefit the company and its partners and in turn increase the value of the stock shares she still held.

In fact, on February 24, the day before the Senate confirmed Granholm, Biden signed Executive Order 14017, which gave Granholm, the now-secretary of energy, instructions to lead the efforts to create a supply chain for electric batteries and other electric vehicle components.

Two months later, on April 15, the Energy Department unveiled two different American taxpayer-funded electric vehicle grant opportunities worth more than $162 million.

Proterra was valued at $1.6 billion when Biden entered office in January 2021. However, the company closed with a $362 million market value on Monday, Reuters detailed.

When Granholm sold her shares in May 2021, she netted a capital gain of $1.6 million. Granholm’s 240,520 shares would be valued at just $340,000 now, the Washington Free Beacon detailed.

Vice President Kamala Harris (center) stands next to heavy-duty electric truck as she visits a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport next to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm (left) and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (right) in New York on November 1, 2021. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Proterra’s electric buses made national headlines several times in recent years for various failures. A Michigan school district claimed the buses had “a lot of downtime and performance issues” and weren’t “fully on the road” during an April presentation.

In 2021, a California transit agency cited a “thermal event” as a reason to potentially retire an entire fleet of Proterra’s electric buses after one of them burst into flames while charging.

Additionally, Philadelphia sidelined an entire fleet of 25 Proterra buses the city spent $24 million on due to “structural and logistical problems” with the buses.

Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at jdixonhamilton@breitbart.com or follow him on Twitter.


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