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ORLANDO-Despite being based in Orlando, Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp. is going with Pittsburgh as the site of its planned $122 million, 430,000-sf, 500-employee high-tech fuel cell manufacturing facility.

Siemens selected the Pittsburgh suburb of Churchill, PA over Orlando and Dallas-Ft. Worth. Nine metropolitan centers and 123 sites were in the running for the contract.

Siemens currently operates a research and development pilot fuel cell plant at the Pittsburgh site. The plant’s first 180,000-sf building breaks ground next month 3 ½ miles northwest of Churchill and expects to be open by July 2002.

Pennsylvania economic development agencies and Gov. Tom Ridge, President Bush’s newly appointed Homeland Security Commissioner, beat out the competition with a financial incentives package that comprises $8.2 million in tax credits and grants; and a $4 million line of credit for low-interest loans.

The incentives package was lower than GlobeSt.com had first reported Sept. 10. Pittsburgh, Orlando and Dallas-Ft. Worth were preparing incentive carrots each valued at about $50 million, according to earlier reports.

In 1995, Orlando and Orange County combined committed $100 million in incentives to lure microchip maker Cirent Semiconductor here.

Siemens Westinghouse’s Stationary Fuel Cells Division plans to sell its fuel cell product line commercially by fall 2003, according to the company’s prepared statement.

The company says its solid oxide fuel cell technology offers highly efficient clean power generation with almost zero emissions. Fuel cells operate on the same principle as a battery. They electrochemically produce electric current from the chemical energy in a fuel.

Because of their relatively small size, the company says the fuel cell units can be located directly where energy is consumed such as office complexes, industrial parks, hospitals, data processing centers and in small neighborhoods.

Siemens is leasing the land for its plant in the Pittsburgh area from an undisclosed owner. The lease is for 50 years at an undisclosed rent, area brokers intimate with the transaction’s details tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

Grubb & Ellis Co. brokers Louis Oliva and Jerry McLaughlin negotiated for Siemens.

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