Plug Power’s announcement that it plans a $232.7 million investment into a manufacturing plant at the Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in the town of Alabama drew attention last week. But it may be the company’s investment into a $55 million electrical substation for the campus that opens the door for future development of the 1,250-acre property.
The substation investment alone doubles the investments made in STAMP, said Genesee County Economic Development Center President and CEO Steve Hyde.
To some extent, the cost of the substation was slowing the agency’s ability to secure commitments for the site.
“One of the challenges of developing a megasite of 1,000 or more acres is that it requires huge amounts of infrastructure,” Hyde said in an interview with The Daily News. “If you’re going to build on that scale, you’re going against some of the biggest economic development projects in the world. It’s like big game hunting.”
STAMP has been in development for the last dozen or more years, with millions of dollars invested into water, sewer and roads. But the substation was proving to be a costly endeavor.
“You don’t have dump truck loads of money to build it and then they come,” Hyde said. “It’s bits of money to get it ready so you are able to build within the timeline of the companies looking to locate there.”
And that, Hyde said, is where GCEDC finds itself with the announcement from Plug Power, a leading producer of hydrogen fuel cells and related infrastructure that wants to run a 24-hour-a-day operation in Genesee County and, according to one of its executives, wants to be in the community “for a long, long time.”
The substation is a big part of that.
“I’m very happy that we were able to come to agreement to build a substation, not just for ourselves, but a substation that will serve the entire site,” said Brenor Brophy, vice president for project development for Plug Power. “Hopefully that will aid the GCEDC in attracting more customers, more companies in there.”
Hyde said the substation will “absolutely open the door for other development.”
“We’ve spent the last two years working hard to get the substation,” he said. “We felt that was the key to get the site’s readiness to a point where it could secure commitments.”
Plug Power, which formed in Albany County in 1997, has proposed a 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at STAMP.
“The plant that we are proposing to build in Western New York at the STAMP site is the largest green hydrogen plant in North America,” said Brophy. “It’s the largest electrolyzer plant of its type — that’s the technology we use to make hydrogen.
“It really is a marquee project and it’s one that everybody who is involved in renewable energy and hydrogen in the country perked up and took notice when we announced it last week,” said Brophy, who has been with Plug Power…
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