How well did Oregon vet its $5 million in loans to now-bankrupt ReVolt?

ReVolt Technology CEO James McDougall predicted swift growth for his company's battery technology.

ReVolt Technology CEO James McDougall predicted swift growth for his company's battery technology. 

How well did Oregon government agencies vet the now-bankrupt company ReVolt Technology before giving it more than $5 million in taxpayer-backed loans?

That's a tough question to answer.

The Business Journal filed public records requests for all ReVolt loan application materials submitted to the state of Oregon, Oregon Department of Energy and Portland Development Commission after the company announced last month it would file bankruptcy and liquidate.

The company received loans from each entity, including $3.4 million from Oregon's Department of Energy, $1.15 million from the Portland Development Commission and $500,000 from the governor's Strategic Reserve Fund. (It also received a $5 million federal grant and Business Energy Tax Credits.)

Each government agency responded with records this week or last.

Under public records law, state agencies can protect trade secrets and other confidential financial information submitted to the state.

Due to worries about its intellectual property leaking, ReVolt also asked officials to sign a non-disclosure agreement that put additional limitations on what information could be disclosed to the public.

Not surprisingly, the information received by the Business Journal is heavily redacted. Since detailed descriptions of the company's technology and most of its financial information – including its balance sheet — are redacted, it's difficult to determine whether the company presented a good case for more than $5 million in taxpayer subsidies.

A confidential August 2010 memo between ReVolt and the Oregon Department of Energy contains the only sales forecast.

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