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GE opens battery plant, expansion planned

Facility will employ 450 workers through $170M production investment

General Electric Company Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt speaks to business and community leaders, politicians and company employees during the grand opening of its new battery facility on Tuesday, July 10.

General Electric Company Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt speaks to business and community leaders, politicians and company employees during the grand opening of its new battery facility on Tuesday, July 10. Photo by John Purcell.

— General Electric unveiled its new battery manufacturing plant with a bang, literally.

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Explosions are triggered during a video highlighting GE's new battery plant in Schenectady on Tuesday, July 10.

GE leaders on Tuesday, July 10, held a grand opening for its $100 million advanced manufacturing battery facility in Schenectady and announced plans to invest an additional $70 million to expand production capabilities. The extra millions will effectively double production and add 100 new jobs, bringing the total factory workforce to 450 employees at full capacity.

After speakers at the event applauded the new technology and company officials laid out future plans, a video highlighted the facility. During the viewing, several planned explosions were set off above the screen.

The new factory, as large as four football fields, is located near GE’s Global Research Center (GRÇ) in Niskayuna, where the new Durathon batteries were developed. The industrial batteries are produced using raw materials such as salt and nickel and are non-toxic and fully recyclable.

“The ability to store energy in an economically competitive way is one of the huge challenges in the 21st Century,” GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt said. “We are investing another $70 million today because we think we have that much demand.”

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said he was thrilled at the opening of the new plant and GE also plans to expand its local operations.

“We’ve worked together in Schenectady to get things done, to compete for and win new investments like this state of the art battery plant,” McCarthy said.

New York State provided $15 million in funding toward the new plant when it was announced in May 2009 and Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority also committed $5 million.

Immelt said he foresees the industrial battery business to be “a billion dollar business” by the end of the decade, with it garnering $500 million annually by 2016. He said only “a handful of customers” would be needed to reach the half billion dollar mark.

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