General Electric announced Wednesday it will lay off about two-thirds of its workers at a PILOT fuel cell manufacturing facility in Luther Forest.
A total of 27 workers are being let go as the company restructures its plan to bring fuel cells to market.
The jobs being eliminated are a mix of commercial and administrative positions, said Todd Alhart, a spokesman for GE Global Research. Outgoing employees are being offered a benefits package and are encouraged to seek other employment at GE, he said.
The stand-alone fuel cell operation grew out of GE Global Research and opened in the state-owned Saratoga Technology + Energy Park in Malta in August 2014. It will retain 16 workers from its technical team, Alhart said.
The remaining team of researchers and engineers will continue to be led by longtime GE engineer Johanna Wellington, a graduate of Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and will work out of the Malta facility, but it will now fall under the auspice of the new Product Breakout Lab at GE Global Research in Niskayuna.
That lab is led by Keith Longtin, who was most recently general manager of Wind Product Management for GE Renewable Energy.
“There’s been a lot of progress, and many technical milestones have been met, but we think we can speed up the development of the technology through the Product Breakout Lab,” Alhart said. “They’ll have access to the resources of the lab and the Global Research Center to help drive this development.”
The Malta facility has been working to develop fuel cells ranging from 1 to 10 megawatts that can be used to power data centers, distribution centers and manufacturing facilities, and also bring more power to the grid for utility substations, Alhart said. He touted the operation’s partnership with Hudson Valley Community College to install a 50-kilowatt fuel cell power generation demonstration system, allowing for reduced energy costs for the college, the development of new curriculum and hands-on training for students.
GE has been researching and developing fuel cell technology for about a decade at Global Research. A breakthrough in solid oxide fuel cell systems led GE to back a startup dedicated to bringing the technology to market, the company announced prior to its opening in 2014.
On Wednesday, Alhart emphasized that the fuel cell technology’s development will be accelerated through the Product Breakout Lab. The technology, once developed, will be brought to market through “existing commercial channels” at GE Power, he said.
“We’re shifting our strategy,” he said.
Reach Gazette reporter Ned Campbell at 395-3142, [email protected] or @nedcampbell on Twitter.