The Fight Over Chicago Electric Car Charging Stations

Chicago Electric Car

“There was a lot of profanity, and then I slammed the phone down,” says Brian Howe, whose company, JNS Power & Control Systems, had installed about 40% of Chicago’s charging stations and was owed more than $161,000 by 350Green. This was in 2011, and 350Green had just called to tell him they were selling out. He’d be paid pennies on the dollar for what he was owed. If he was luck. Howe feared that if 350Green were sold, it would put him under … until he had an idea. “Then it was like this light bulb went off. Why don’t I (buy it)?”

If you’re one of the millions of people who’s watched the Untouchables, you can practically hear Sean Connery mumble out “Thatch the sheeca-ahgo way.” to Kevin Costner’s Elliot Ness as you read that. Howe, in typical Chicago fashion, didn’t like the deal he was offered, and made a counter that- as of Tuesday, couldn’t be refused. That’s when a court ruled in Howe’s favor, stating that Howe was now the rightful owner of Chicago’s 350Green charging stations.

How has fully taken over the 350Green project, which was selected by the City of Chicago in 2011 to install some 280 charging stations throughout the city of Chicago, including 73 “fast enough to charge a vehicle in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee”. Now, that’s on Howe, who “will be entering the multi-million dollar electric vehicle charging station market with an eye on continued growth in the sector,” according to a release issued to the Chicago Tribune last month.

Despite being less than three years old, 350Green had a sick, and sordid history in Chicago that involved fraud, false invoices, the FBI, and- in typical mobster fashion- a run-in with a wealthy guy from Miami Beach. Head on over to the Chicago Tribune’s excellent, cringe-worthy summary of that history by Tribune reporter Julie Wernau. I’ve also included the new company’s official press release, below, which includes more details on the company’s plans and structure going forward. As for me, I’m just hoping Howe gets it right- and doesn’t follow the Chicago traditions that involve ripping off taxpayers!

 

JNS Power & Control Systems to Receive Title to 350 Green, LLC’s Chicago Project Assets

CHICAGO, PRNewswire/ — Attorneys for JNS Holdings Corporation (“JNSH”) and JNS Power & Control Systems, Inc. (“JNS Power”) obtained a pledge from the attorney for 350 Green, LLC (“350 Green”) during federal court proceedings last Friday, October 18, 2013, that 350 Green would deliver all of the 219 chargers contemplated in the April 17, 2013 Asset Purchase Agreement between JNS Power and 350 Green by Friday, October 25, 2013. Delivery of the chargers, the 168 already installed at electric vehicle (“EV”) charging stations throughout the Chicagoland area, and an additional fifty-one (51) Level II chargers, as well as the license agreements with property owners, was required by the September 24, 2013 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Elaine Bucklo. In that decision, the court ordered specific performance under the Asset Purchase Agreement by 350 Green and rejected the claims of JNS Power’s competitor, Car Charging Group (“CCGI”), which had filed the federal court action in Chicago seeking to have the Asset Purchase Agreement declared void.

Kelly McCloskey Cherf and Patrick Deady of Hogan Marren, Ltd. in Chicago, the attorneys for JNSH and JNS Power, said that their clients had been seeking the transfer of the assets since the September 24th ruling so that JNS Power could complete a federally funded energy grant with the City of Chicago. “When two weeks had passed and JNS Power still did not have a bill of sale for the chargers, we were compelled to seek the assistance of Judge Bucklo. On October 9, 2013, we filed a motion for an order directing 350 Green to show cause why it should not be held in contempt for failing to perform as directed by the court’s September 24, 2013 order.”

At a hearing on JNS Power’s contempt motion, Michael Bernstein, attorney for 350 Green and CCGI, informed Judge Bucklo that issues with respect to the Chicago Project chargers were in the process of being resolved and that a bill of sale for the 168 chargers already installed at EV charging stations, as well as the remaining chargers described in the agreement would be delivered to JNS no later than Friday, October 25, 2013. Mr. Deady advised the Court that attorneys for JNS had been working diligently with CCGI since filing the contempt motion but discovered on their own the day before the hearing that 350 Green could not provide clean title to the chargers. Based on Mr. Bernstein’s representations, Judge Bucklo continued the contempt motion until October 31, 2013. “Hopefully, CCGI can get these issues worked out,” Mr. Deady said. “JNS has been denied use and control of the assets it purchased since April.”

 

Source: JNS Holdings and the Chicago Tribune, via EVChels.

 

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.