Rochester could be home to new gigafactory

Rochester could be the new home of Plug Power Inc.’s new “gigafactory,” according to a statement from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer last week.

But Plug Power officials will neither confirm nor deny the assertion. A company representative said in an email Tuesday that the Albany-area provider of modern hydrogen and fuel cell technology has chosen a location for the factory but declined to say where that site is.

If Rochester is chosen it would mean 375 or more jobs in the region, Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

“I am ecstatic to say that Plug Power will be plugging into Rochester as the home for its new hydrogen fuel cell ‘gigafactory’ that will rev up Rochester with over 375 new good-paying clean energy jobs,” Schumer said in last week’s statement. “I made the case to Plug Power CEO Andrew Marsh that the Rochester region’s powerhouse workforce, along with New York’s excellent package, was the spark needed to drive its exciting and cutting-edge hydrogen fuel cell technology to new heights. I applaud Plug Power for heeding my call and fully expect the new ‘gigafactory’ to open in Rochester by mid-2021, powered by hundreds of Rochester workers.”

In November, Schumer reached out to Marsh to express his support for the company’s interest in locating its new factory in New York state. At the time, Plug Power was considering sites in New York and another state for its hydrogen fuel cell component manufacturing plant the company plans to open this year.

“Plug Power’s deep history, investments and nearly 400-member existing New York workforce in the state make New York an ideal place for the company’s continued growth and leadership in green hydrogen fuel cell development and manufacturing,” Schumer said in a Nov. 17 statement. “Our world-class New York workforce is eager to get to work, and with its considerable capabilities for fuel cell manufacturing and development is tailor-made to help drive Plug Power’s new hydrogen fuel cell gigafactory.”

Plug Power was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Latham, Albany County. The company employs roughly 400 people in New York, including 70 in its Rochester manufacturing site. In 2019, the company completed its nearly $4 million expansion in Rochester. The move came less than a year after the opening of Plug Power’s Eastman Business Park facility. Its Rochester facilities include engineering and administrative offices, research and development laboratory space and a warehouse location.

The new gigafactory will be an up to 200,000-square-foot factory that will produce hydrogen electrolyzers used for the production of hydrogen fuel and to make hydrogen PEM fuel cells used to produce electricity to power equipment. Plug Power has sold some 40,000 fuel cell systems to customers including Amazon, BMW, Walmart and more.

The gigafactory will include research and development laboratories, in addition to defect detection equipment and automated systems to assemble fuel cells and hydrogen electrolyzers, Schumer said in his November statement.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer