Optimism 'low' for lithium-ion battery plant in Glendale

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By The Staff

Landmark News Service

James J. Greenberger isn’t holding out much hope that an electric vehicle battery plant will be built in Glendale in the near future.

“At the moment, there’s not much to be optimistic about,’’ said Greenberger, co-founder of the National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Batteries consortium. “I wish I could have something more positive, but I don’t want there to be false hopes out there. We don’t have a lot of optimism for this anytime soon.’’

Greenberger said NAATBatt and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear inquired a little more than a month ago with the U.S. Department of Energy if his group would be a viable candidate for a loan of up to $340 million.

NAATBatt planned to build a $600 million lithium-ion battery factory in Glendale. The factory was expected to create about 2,000 jobs and spur spin-off businesses.

But in August, the project was short-circuited in its bid to gain stimulus money from a $2 billion pool intended to bolster the domestic industry. Much of the grant money was funneled to Michigan and suppliers of the state’s big auto makers.

Greenberger said a full loan of $340 million is what is desired, but not an absolute cut-off point.

“There is flexibility in this,’’ he said. “It can be a different size project if it would be less than $340 million. We can make it (the project) smaller or modify it in some ways.’’

He said not hearing from the DOE is difficult. “We don’t hold out great optimism. We have not gotten much feedback; we’ve received no feedback.’’

NAATBatt was planned as a nonprofit consortium of more than 50 companies that would have manufactured battery cells at the site and then would compete in the marketplace.

Greenberger said he liked “the project for the companies and the country” and that he doesn’t expect the idea ever to be shelved.

“It just doesn’t look like an opportunity will arise for it in the near future,’’ he said.