General Electric Co. in Schenectady, New York will begin work this fall on its $100 million advanced battery plant, after the state Department of Environmental Conservation today signed off on an air quality permit. The permit was the final environmental hurdle as GE (NYSE: GE) plans to convert Building 66, a former turbine manufacturing site, on its downtown campus into a battery manufacturing center that is expected to generate at least 350 new jobs when the plant is completed and at full capacity. It will begin operating in mid-2011. â¿¿This is great news for everyone. Itâ¿¿s a significant step,â¿ said Chris Horne, a GE spokeswoman. DEC determined that the plant will not have a significant adverse environmental impact on its surroundings, and that its air emissions will meet state and federal standards. Gene Kelly, GEâ¿¿s regional director, said GE engaged the agency early in the planning stages. â¿¿Because of that, [the] DEC was able to guide the company through the process, making sure that the design was environmentally acceptable,â¿ Kelly said. Building 66 currently is used to build generators for power plants. That work will move to another location on the campus. The construction work is expected to employ 150 people. Initially, the plant would produce 1 million batteries a year, with a focus on cell towers, data centers and other systems that require uninterruptible power sources, Horne said. Later, batteries for large-scale transportation will be produced as demand dictates. All of the batteries were developed at nearby GE Global Research in Niskayuna. New York state will pay $15 million toward the manufacturing center: $12.5 million through Empire State Developmentâ¿¿s Jobs Now program and $2.5 million through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Schenectady Metroplex is contributing $5 million.