WHITE MARSH, MD – General Motors said its electric motor plant near Baltimore, set to open in 2013, will be the first by a major U.S. automaker that’s dedicated to making the critical components for vehicle electrification.

With Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on hand, GM broke ground Tuesday, May 17, for the addition to the complex housing the automaker’s two-mode hybrid and heavy-duty transmission operations. The electric motor plant results from two investments totaling $269.5 million announced last year.

Electric motor design and production is a core business for GM in the development and manufacture of plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles.

“We believe the future of sustainable transportation is electrically driven vehicles and this facility will help us maintain a leadership position within this category,” said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of energy, environment and safety policy. “It’s fitting that green ‘motors of the future’ are being built at a facility well recognized for ongoing efforts to reduce its environmental impact.”

The campus will be powered in part by a 1.23 megawatt rooftop solar array, expected to generate 9 percent of its annual energy consumption and save approximately $330,000 during the life of the project.

“By harnessing solar energy from this array, GM will offset up to 1,103 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the air per year – equivalent to the emissions from 216 passenger vehicles,” said Robinson.

Constellation Energy will build, own and maintain the solar power system, and GM will purchase all of the electricity generated by the solar panels under a 20-year power purchase agreement. Constellation Energy’s first solar array for GM was a 951-kilowatt system at a service and parts operations warehouse in Fontana, Calif.

“Solar as a power-generation source is an attractive option for GM and other large-scale manufacturers to achieve environmental goals and control electricity costs,” said Michael D. Smith, senior vice president of green initiatives for Constellation Energy’s retail business.

GM uses renewable energy from solar, hydro, and landfill gas resources at various plants. In the United States alone, 1.4 percent of its energy consumption comes from renewable resources.

GM’s Baltimore operations complex has the dual distinction of being powered by renewable energy and generating no landfill waste. It earned zero-landfill status in 2007 by recycling, reusing or converting to energy all wastes from daily operations.

Last year, the Baltimore operations complex won a Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award for showing commitment to sustainable practices with measureable results.

“Our state is one of discovery and innovation, where traditional manufacturers like GM embrace the new technologies that move our companies, our commerce and our citizens forward,” Gov. O’Malley said.