GE CEO: N.Y. Battery Plant To Get $70M Expansion

The investment in the Schenectady plant will double production and add 100 new jobs to make more batteries for hybrid locomotives.

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (AP) — General Electric Co. announced Tuesday it will invest $70 million to double the production of its advanced sodium battery plant.

GE made the announcement as CEO Jeffrey Immelt toured the downtown Schenectady plant and discussed the expansion, which will add 100 new jobs. The plant will employ 450 workers when it's up to full capacity.

"Just a few years ago, researchers in our labs invented a new battery, one that was simple in its ingredients but advanced in its design and science, containing more than 30 patents," Immelt said. "It soon became obvious that we weren't just making a new battery; we were building a new business."

GE said the South African engineering company Megatron Federal has signed a purchase agreement for 6,000 of the Durathon batteries to be delivered in 2013 for telecom installations in Nigeria.

The sodium batteries will be used in GE's hybrid locomotive, heavy service vehicles and backup storage. Officials said the new plant will serve as a catalyst for economic development. It is expected to produce a million batteries this year.

Schenectady County contributed $5 million in assistance and tax breaks. GE also got $25 million in federal tax credits and $15 million in incentives from the state for the plant.

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