GE to build $40M smart grid center in Ontario

GE and the Government of Ontario last week announced a new $40 million Grid IQ Innovation Center, the first smart grid center of its kind for GE in Canada, to be located in Markham, Ontario. The 200,000 square foot center will develop and manufacture grid modernization technologies and encompass a global testing and simulation laboratory. The building is expected to open in July 2012.

The announcement was made by Minister of Economic Development and Trade Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Energy Brad Duguid, GE Canada President and CEO Elyse Allan and Juan Macias, general manager, smart substations—digital energy for GE Energy Services. The $40 million project will be supported by a grant of $7.9 million from the Government of Ontario.

The new center builds on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) GE signed with the Ontario government in September 2009 to partner and invest long-term within the province to establish new or expanded centers of technology and advanced manufacturing. Under the MOU, GE recently announced the establishment of the company’s first Digital Pathology Center of Excellence in Toronto and a $100 million investment in the GE Motors, Peterborough facility.

GE’s Grid IQ Innovation Center will drive research and development, create new innovation-related jobs—including expanded manufacturing—and facilitate global collaboration. GE will add approximately 146 new jobs over the next four years. Additional indirect jobs in high-tech research, design manufacturing and construction are anticipated, beginning when the center breaks ground for its new building this spring.

“Through this important partnership, we are creating jobs and establishing centers of excellence for Ontarians in high-growth sectors of the economy,” said Minister Pupatello. “The global demand for clean technologies is increasing and today, we’re taking another step forward in establishing Ontario as a market leader.”

“A smart grid will greatly enhance the reliability of Ontario’s electricity system and provide real choices to Ontarians in managing their electricity consumption,” said Minister Duguid. “This investment reaffirms our commitment to creating a strong, reliable, clean energy system while cleaning up the air we breathe for future generations.”
“GE has been a valued member of our business community with its own 125 year history of excellence and innovation,” said Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti. “We’re proud that GE has chosen to expand in Markham with this exciting new innovation center.”

“GE is investing in a better energy future for Canada and the world,” said Macias. “Our new center will give inventors and problem solvers the resources to accelerate development and testing of new solutions, while expanding GE’s smart grid support and manufacturing capabilities. With a highly skilled, educated workforce and multi-lingual residents, Markham is an ideal location for GE’s Grid IQ Innovation Center.”

“Today's announcement is an excellent example of how business and government can partner to develop innovative technologies that address Ontario’s needs while having applicability to sustainable energy demands globally," said Elyse Allan, president and CEO, GE Canada.

With global energy demand forecasted to increase 75 percent by 2030 and more than 40 percent of the world’s current environmental emissions resulting from electricity generation, consumers and governments alike are calling for new ideas to improve our current infrastructure. GE’s Grid IQ Innovation Center will focus on delivering solutions to improve system efficiency and reliability and to protect and automate the power system. Specific activities planned for the center include leading edge research and development in substation and distribution automation, electrical system protection and control, microgrid control and cyber security.

The smart grid center is intended to become a Canadian destination for companies and countries seeking to upgrade their energy systems. A testing and simulation laboratory can be utilized by global utilities to learn how the center’s technologies can help their specific infrastructures with simulations and testing before deployment.

New products and solutions created at the site will be supported by manufacturing. GE’s Grid IQ Innovation Center will include expanded manufacturing facilities for GE’s Smart Grid Automation products, which will relocate from Calgary, Alberta.

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