Problems with the Energy Department's $529 million loan to troubled startup automaker Fisker Automotive Inc.

prompted the Obama administration to tighten its loan criteria, documents released by a House committee show.

New documents show that the Energy Department spent years seriously considering awarding loans to numerous green energy companies including Bright Automotive, A123, Think Global, Enerdel, Dow Kokam and Next Autoworks. But in the wake of problems with Fisker's loan, the Obama administration took a much tougher stance with the applicants for the $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, according to Energy Department consultants who worked on the program.

The emails also show that many startup automakers awaiting loans expressed frustration with the slow pace.

The emails are the first concrete evidence that explains in part why dozens of companies spent years waiting for loans. Many — including General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC — eventually gave up requests for loans under the program after months or years of talks.

An email from Energy Department consultant Sandra Claghorn in March 2010 said "the credit standards have indeed become a bit more stringent since the Tesla and Fisker deals went through."

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