Report: LG Chem wasted $150 million grant for battery cells

Federal government report says west Michigan company never built batteries, wasted millions in taxpayer money

Author: Bisi Onile-Ere, Local 4 Reporter
Published On: Feb 13 2013 06:18:52 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 14 2013 03:49:59 AM EST
HOLLAND, Mich. -

A few years back, the federal government gave $150 million of Michigan taxpayer money to LG Chem, a battery company on the west side of the state.

By now, LG Chem was supposed to be on track producing automotive battery cells primarily for Chevrolet and Ford electric vehicles. However, the latest government report has blown the lid off of what's really been going on at the company.

As of this day, there is not a single battery to show for it. A lot of the jobs that were supposed to move to the area are still in South Korea.

The U.S. Department of Energy says LG Chem has fallen overwhelmingly short on its goal, wasting away millions in taxpayer dollars. The batteries were never produced for shipment.

A few months ago, a Grand Rapids TV station talked to workers who exposed what was actually going on behind LG Chem's closed doors.

"There was probably up to 40 of us just sitting there during the day," one worker said.

The worker said they were sitting in the cafeteria playing cards and reading magazines when there was nothing else to do.

The company has tried to correct a wrong by repaying the government more than $800,000 in federal funds. However, the loss is said to exceed that amount. It's dollars that likely will never be accounted for because of mismanagement.

Not only were some workers paid to play games and watch movies, but some employees even volunteered on company times. Despite all of this, LG Chem still produces products out of South Korea.

Local 4 called LG Chem but has not heard back.