General Electric Co. has unveiled plans to build a $100 million battery manufacturing plant in eastern New York state for a newly formed battery business.
The announcement was made at GE’s (NSYE: GE) Global Research Center near Albany. GE is partnering with the state of New York in building the $100 million in the plant that will be located in a yet-undetermined site in the Albany region. It will create 350 jobs—being labeled “green-collar” jobs—and thousands more in the supply chain, GE said.
GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said the project will move forward whether GE receives federal stimulus money or not.
Ground breaking will take place this year and the plant will be in production by 2011.
GE has invested more than $150 million to develop advanced battery technologies, including a high energy density, sodium-based chemistry battery that will provide energy storage for several future product applications, GE said. The first application will be GE’s hybrid locomotive, which will be commercialized in 2010.
Immelt made the announcement at Global Research Center along with Gov. David Paterson and other elected officials. The company picked Upstate New York for the plant because of support it has received from the state.
“This type of public-private partnership is essential to rebuild America’s manufacturing base, create new jobs and to accelerate the pace at which new technology comes to market,” said Immelt. “We believe the advanced battery business could be a $1 billion business over the next decade. As GE launches this technology business, I want to thank Governor Paterson and his economic development team for their assistance in facilitating the agreement that made the selection of New York an easy decision.”
Immelt said it was important for the new plant to be near the Global Research Center. The batteries being developed will rely on new materials and new manufacturing processes, the company said.
Gov. Paterson said he believed the project met the objective of the federal stimulus funding GE is seeking.
“This is exactly the kind of project Congress envisioned when they developed this component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and I urge the U.S. Department of Energy to approve this important project for New York state,” he said.
The plant will make about 10 million cells each year when it is manufacturing at full capacity. That translates to 900 megawatt hours of energy storage—enough energy storage to power 1,000 U.S homes for a month or 1,000 GE hybrid locomotives.
The battery business falls under GE Transportation and will serve rail, marine, telecommunications and utility sectors.
Matthew Rose, chairman, president and CEO of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., a railroad company, said hybrid locomotives and battery technology could play a significant role in how goods are shipped in the future.
Immelt’s announcement at GE Global Research wasn’t his first major announcement at the center. In January 2000, Immelt announced from the Niskayuna site GE’s $100 million expansion of the research center.
“In the GE of the 21st century, we will drive technical excellence in all our businesses and clearly distinguish ourselves in the marketplace. The Global Research Center is at the heart of this philosophy, and will spearhead GE innovation and growth,” he said at the time.
GE’s made other big announcements in recent years, following years of job cuts at its energy plant in Schenectady, which once employed more than 40,000 people and now has about 3,000 workers.
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