LG Chem

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan factory that makes lithium-ion batteries for General Motors is halting production for up to six weeks because of a controversy over a chemical.

LG Chem spokesman Jeremy Hagemeyer says a chemical used to make batteries may not be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He declined to name it.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

LG Chem Plant begins production

The LG Chem plant in West Michigan has finally started production of lithium-ion batteries.  Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith reports that “the plant cost roughly $300 million to build,” and that “federal stimulus money paid for almost half that cost.”  The plant has been accused of wasting some of that money by paying employees despite them not working.

Elections Commission rejects recall request

The Washtenaw County Elections Commission has rejected a recall of Ann Arbor school board members.  Michigan Radio’s Rick Pluta reports the election board “ruled the petition was not sufficiently clear on why six members of the Ann Arbor Board of Education should be removed by voters.”  

Medicaid committee praised

Governor Rick Snyder has applauded a state Senate committee for advancing work on Medicaid. The committee produced three plans, one of which would expand Medicaid in Michigan.  Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports "Snyder says he’s not worried that the competing bills will peel votes away from the legislation he supports."

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A lithium-ion battery maker says it’s finally begun production at its plant in West Michigan.

President Obama’s stimulus package invested some $2 billion in advanced battery plants. Back in the summer of 2010, Mr. Obama came to Holland for the ground breaking ceremony for the new LG Chem plant. It was to eventually make lithium ion batteries for the Chevy Volt.

The plant cost roughly $300 million to build. Federal stimulus money paid for half that cost.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Officials from Allegan County confirm three companies have put tax liens on LG Chem’s Holland plant. Andy J. Egan Company’s lien is worth $142,199.73,Circuit Electric’s is worth $107,712.15 and Johnson Controls’ $14,600. They say two other liens from 2011 were paid off.

The plant cost roughly $300 million dollars to build. Federal stimulus money paid for half that cost. Last week the Department of Energy’s Inspector General released a report that concluded the company wasted some of that money. The company paid back more than eight-hundred-thousand dollars.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Community leaders in Holland, Michigan are trying to stay upbeat about the future of the battery industry they’ve worked so hard to attract.

But the past week has been rough for advanced battery maker LG Chem. A U.S. Department of Energy audit reported the company likely wasted more than a million dollars in grant money.

Construction is underway on a huge plant in Holland that will eventually produce hundreds of thousands of battery packs for electric vehicles, including the Chevy Volt. Under a new agreement signed this week, Grand Rapids Community College will help train potential employees for the company, LG Chem.

Mary Hofstra is with GRCC. She helped design this and similar programs at the college.

 “Our goal as a school is to be working with these new battery facilities and to design the curriculum needed to support that industry. So that people can come here, get their college certificate, one year certificate. Maybe it’s going to be a job training model where someone comes for a 20 week period of time to learn the basics to get into that field. It’s going to bring a lot of opportunity beyond just the few that are coming to area.”

Under the agreement, the college will train more than 3,000 employees the company expects to hire over the next two decades. LG Chem will pay for their employees’ training through payroll taxes.