Mass. firm seeks $100M in stimulus funds for lithium-ion plant

Boston-Power technology seen as critical to national security; plant would employ 600

Boston-Power Inc., which now builds lithium-ion batteries in Taiwan, is seeking $100 million in federal stimulus funds to build a 455,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Massachusetts.

Of the $787 billion in federal stimulus funds approved by Congress, the U.S. has set aside $2 billion to build, from scratch, lithium-ion manufacturing facilities in the U.S. Government officials have said production of lithium-ion batteries, whose technology is rapidly improving, has been specifically targeted for stimulus dollars because it is critical to national security.

On Monday, Massachusetts pledged to add $9 million in matching financing for the project if the federal funds are approved. It is estimated that that project would create about 600 jobs at the manufacturing facility and some 2,000 indirect jobs, including those of the workers who will build the plant and those of people hired at companies that will supply materials to it.

The manufacturing plant would be built in Auburn, Mass., close to Boston-Power's headquarters in Westboro, Mass. That locale boasts an abundant workforce and is close to a number of universities.

A Boston-Power spokesman said the company hopes to get an answer on its request for federal stimulus funds within a month.

Boston-Power currently makes laptop PC batteries, and it has plans to produce batteries for electric cars. The company had been planning to build a lithium-ion manufacturing plant in China, and but it put that plan on hold once Congress approved the stimulus package. In an interview earlier this year, Christina Lampe-Onnerud, Boston Power's CEO, said that with U.S. help, "in principle, we would be able to compete with leading Japanese manufacturers very, very quickly."

Boston-Power's laptop batteries are used by Hewlett-Packard Co., among other vendors. The company now produces its batteries in Taiwan under an agreement it has with a manufacturer there.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon