Plug Power Inc., which broke ground about three weeks ago on a hydrogen fuel facility in Genesee County, officially opened its $125 million Innovation Center in Henrietta on Friday afternoon.
The company is planning to create up to 377 jobs at the John Street facility.
“Plug Power is a key partner in New York State’s efforts to move both the state and the nation toward a more renewable future,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a news release announcing the opening. “The state-of-the-art Innovation Center will help to further establish New York State as a green energy leader. This innovative company’s continued investment in statewide expansion is truly a testament to their commitment to create new, green jobs and to boose economic growth in their home state.”
The opening establishes the world first gigafactory for Proton Exchange Membrane technology, where Plug Power will manufacture hydrogen fuel cell stacks and electrolyzers. The fuel cell stacks are used in the company’s ProGen hydrogen fuel cell engines that power electric vehicles such as forklifts, airport tugs, delivery trucks, tractor-trailers, and drones. The electrolyzers are utilized in the generation of green hydrogen from renewable electricity.
Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh said the gigafactory positions “Plug Power, and the region, as global leaders in PEM technology, driving scale and industry transformation in the global green hydrogen economy.”
Guests expected at the opening included Marsh, Sen. Charles E. “Chuck” Schumer, D-N.Y.; Rep. Joe Morelle, D-Rochester; Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, Finger Lakes Regional Director for Empire State Development Vinnie Esposito, and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Duffy.
“I’m ecstatic that Plug Power heeded my call to make Monroe County the home of its new hydrogen fuel cell Innovation Center Gigafactory,” Schumer said in a news release.
State Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, R-Elma, said Plug Power’s commitment to Monroe County “sends a positive message about the continued growth of the upstate economy, the ongoing effort revitalize manufacturing and the skilled workforce available to help business succeed.”
Duffy also noted that Plug Power’s commitment to the region “is a testament to our stellar resources of talent, infrastructure and smart investments.”
Plug Power broke ground Oct. 20 of a $290 million green hydrogen fuel production facility and electricity substation at the Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park, also known as STAMP, in the town of Alabama.
The ground breaking was the first at the manufacturing park, which is owned by the Genesee County Economic Development Center.
Plug Power is slated to be the first tenant in the manufacturing park, which has been in development for about 15 years. A previous project, a solar manufacturing facility, withdrew in 2018 before breaking ground.
Plug Power’s production facility will produce 45 metric tons of green liquid hydrogen daily that will serve the northeast. The hydrogen is sold to customers to replace fossil fuels in on-road applications such as heavy-duty freight and forklifts. The company’s customers include: Amazon, Walmart, Wegmans, GM, Home Depot, Lowe’s, IKEA and Ace Hardware.
The company has committed to creating up to 68 new jobs, with an average annual salary of $70,000.
Plug Power is also funding construction of a 45-megawatt electricity substation at the STAMP site that will support its hydrogen production facility and provide future growth opportunities for the site.
In 2019, Plug Power announced plans to expand its presence in New York, investing $3.7 million to establish a Membrane Electrode Assemblies facility in Rochester’s Eastman Business Park. The company had previously announced an expansion plan in the state’s Capital Region.
Plug Power was founded in 1997 in Albany County and is credited with creating the first commercially viable market for hydrogen fuel cells technology.
Plug Power announced a partnership earlier this year with South Korean-based SK Group to accelerate hydrogen as an alternative energy source in Asian markets.