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

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 lithium-ion battery production, a rapidly improving technology, has been specifically targeted for stimultus dollars because it is critical to national security.

If the federal funds are approved, Massachusetts on Monday pledged to add $9 million in matching financing for the project, which would create about 600 jobs at the manufacturing facility, and some 2,000 indirect jobs -- workers building the plant and those hired at companies that will supply materials to it.

The manufacturing plant will be built in Auburn, Mass., close to Boston-Power's headquarters in Westborough, Mass., as well to the state's universities and an abundant workforce.

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

Boston-Power currently makes laptop batteries, and also plans to produce batteries for motor vehicles. Boston-Power had been planning to build a lithium-ion manufacturing plant in China, and but put those plans on hold once Congress approved the stimulus. In an interview earlier this year, Christina Lampe-Onnerud, Boston Power's CEO, said that with U.S. help, "in principal, 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.

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