An Albany-based fuel cell company, Plug Power, is again expanding in this region. If that name sounds familiar, it is because the company recently announced it will bring a hydrogen fuel cell "gigafactory" to Henrietta, NY, which is expected to create more than 370 jobs.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that Plug Power will invest $290 million in a hydrogen production operation at the Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP), located in the Genesee County town of Alabama, creating at least 68 jobs. Hydrogen fuel cell systems replace conventional batteries in equipment and vehicles powered by electricity.
Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh said this new project will mesh well with the Henrietta operation, and that the Genesee County STAMP facility is a good spot for their expansion. Plug Power also has a facility at the Eastman Business Park in Rochester.
“It’s the infrastructure that exists at the facility as well as the fact that it’s so close to our operations in Rochester, so there’s a nice symbiotic relationship,” Marsh said, adding that Plug Power is working to build the ability to create green hydrogen at facilities across the U.S., an effort that has the backing of U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Marsh added that those other facilities would be using product made in the Rochester area.
Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, noted that the Plug Power expansion is the first tenant for that long-planned industrial park.
"This really helps us drive growth and get those next-level opportunities, because when companies are looking at site readiness, it’s all about, is the infrastructure built," Hyde said.
Plug Power will fund the construction of an electric substation at that industrial park in Genesee County, which Hyde said will also help attract other companies there.
Matt Hurlbutt, president and CEO of Greater Rochester Eneterprise, said this project is emblematic of the kind of high-tech innovation going on not only in this region, but across upstate.
"It certainly also kind of connects the high tech corridor that we talk about in economic circles," Hurlbutt said. "When you look at Buffalo, and you go down to some of the advancements in technologies, even as far as Albany, we really have a lot of interesting innovations coming on line, certainly in the semiconductor space, related technologies, material science, energy innovation."
Empire State Development will provide up to $2 million in Excelsior Tax Credits in exchange for job creation commitments. Genesee County will also provide additional local tax incentives, pending approval. The New York Power Authority is also providing economic development incentives under the authority’s new green jobs criteria, pending approval by its board of trustees.
Construction on the new Genesee County facility is expected to begin this summer.