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GE to Build New York Battery Plant, Create 350 Jobs

"GE to Build New York Battery Plant, Create 350 Jobs(By Rachel Layne via Bloomberg)General Electric Co., the world's biggest maker of power-plant equipment
and locomotives, will invest about $100 million to start a new
batterybusiness and create at least 350 jobs in northern New York.The batteries will first be used in hybrid locomotives that will be
available commercially in 2010, Fairfield, Connecticut- based GE said today
in a statement. Governor David Paterson and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey
Immelt made the announcement at GE's research and development center in
Niskayuna, New York.GE spent $150 million developing the sodium-based chemical technology in
the batteries and will apply for stimulus funds from the U.S. Department of
Energy. The project complements lithium batteries for plug-in hybrid
vehiclesmade by closely held A123 Systems, of which GE owns more than 10
percent. A specific location for the business hasn't been chosen."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," Immelt said in the statement. Sales may
increase to $1 billion over the next decade and reach about $500 million a
year by 2015, he said.GE said it has initial customers for the battery technology in the
telecommunications, utility and mining industries. Uses will include
heavy-duty vehicles, backup power storage and devices that keep energy
steady for utilities. At full capacity, the plant would produce about 10
million cells a year, enough energy storageto power 1,000 U.S. homes for a
month, GE said.GE fell 51 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $13.68 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock
Exchange composite trading. The shares have dropped 16 percent this year.Transportation UnitThe new unit, part of GE's Transportation division, should create thousands
of supplier jobs and was supported by Paterson, U.S. Representative Paul
Tonko and Dennis Mullen, Upstate president of the Empire State Development
Corp., GE said.About $15 million of the $100 million for the business is tied to state
grants, Immelt and Paterson said in the presentation. Immelt said he began
expanding the research center in 2002, spending about $200 million to
develop new technologies and boosting employment 14 percent. The new jobs
will be mostly skilled-trade and manufacturing-related, Immelt said.The project "belies the notion that's being circulated in the atmosphere
that it's going to take too long for these technologies to take hold in our
society," Paterson said at the event.Mega-HybridsThe sodium-based technology, developed at the Niskayuna center for
"mega-hybrids," was demonstrated a year ago as part of a tugboat system
designed to lower emissions. It doesn't conflict with GE's investment in
closely held A123, based in Watertown, Massachusetts, GE said. Mark Little,
who heads GE's global research and development, also sits on A123's board.GE is seeking to benefit from President Barack Obama's efforts to increase
U.S. supplies of clean energy. The $787 billion economic-stimulus package
signed into law in February includes at least $59 billion in new spending
and tax credits to develop and expand energy technology, including
batteries that provide a steadier flow of electricity for the power grid
used by utilities.Tonko said it was key that the federal stimulus package's definition of
clean power include transportation and energy. GE's expansion in the Albany
area has bolstered such an argument, Tonko said."As you invest in invention and innovation it seems to inspire a clustering
of groups that will then come into that hub of activity," Tonko said in an
interview. "We see this clustering happening where there's a workforce
developed."Doubling Renewable EnergyObama has set a goal of doubling the use of renewable energy by 2012. GE's
clean energy products include wind turbines, appliances, smart meters and
solar p"