Schumer: Rochester area at center of potential $1.25B for green hydrogen network

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HENRIETTA, N.Y. — The northeast region of the country is poised to receive $1.25 billion in federal funding – and the Rochester area at the center of that. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer came to Henrietta on Monday to explain how, if granted, these potential funds will be used to benefit both Rochester and New York State.

Hydrogen is a form of green energy that relies on chemical reactions instead of combustion. Where fossil fuels burn – emitting carbon and pollutants – hydrogen produces water vapor and heat.

But hydrogen isn’t always green. It can be (and is) created using fossil fuels.

Plug Power is a New York company that manufactures hydrogen, at the only green hydrogen manufacturing plant in the country. Headquartered in Albany, its in-progress Batavia factory is currently leading the country in green hydrogen production.

“We’re going to use hydroelectric power – which is green – to create green hydrogen,” Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh said.

Plug employs over 2,000 people in New York State, and over 400 in Henrietta. Marsh says the billion on the line right now would help them increase their production capabilities.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at the podium in Plug Power’s Henrietta facility on Tuesday, June 19. Schumer said that the Rochester area will benefit greatly from $1.25 billion in federal funding if approved for a network of green hydrogen facilities. (Hailie Higgins/WHEC)

Schumer says the funds would also help Plug join a network of green hydrogen facilities. The green hydrogen network would be created by over 100 public and private partnerships and create over a dozen green hydrogen facilities in the northeast United States.

“Plug Power’s at the center of this, but the huge opportunity that New York has and Rochester has to become the center of America’s first ever billion-dollar clean hydrogen hub,” Schumer said.

Plug, as the existing green hydrogen company, would get a huge chuck of that $1.25 billion to increase their existing operations. Marsh says this would help them fulfill the $7 billion in potential orders they have waiting for this deal to go through.

Their Henrietta facility creates two major products: An electrolyzer, and a fuel cell stack.

An electrolyzer is like a generator, Marsh says, that creates the hydrogen. It is then stored in a fuel cell stack. A standard stack is comprised of hundreds of cells, and is roughly the size of a thick silver brick about a foot and a half high. The fuel cell stack acts like a battery and, depending on its usage, can last for years. The fuel cell stack in Toyota’s hydrogen-powered car lasts the lifetime of the vehicle, according to their website.

Schumer said that while the deal isn’t signed, he is confident in his ability to bring this funding to Rochester and the rest of the Northeast. He says plans are expected to be finalized either way in early fall. Funding would come shortly after that, Schumer said.