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October 30, 2016 - 1:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, GCEDC, business, Alabama, news.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center Board of Directors voted at its Oct. 27 meeting to accept Empire State Development’s $28 million Grant Disbursement Agreement (GDA) to start infrastructure work at the STAMP campus in order to achieve shovel-ready status.

The funding will be used to acquire some remaining acreage at the site and construction and inspection services for water lines, wastewater pump stations and sewer lines, road infrastructure and gas and electric connectivity. It is anticipated that the first bid for infrastructure work will be for the construction of a water system from Oakfield to the STAMP site.

“Based on the release of the funds, we expect that bids will be going out in the next couple of months,” said Mark Masse, CPA, Sr. VP of Operations for the GCEDC. “The other projects that the agency will be putting out to bid over the next few months include onsite construction of the roadway and associated stormwater management.”

Among other things, GCEDC staff is working with its engineering consultants and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as officials in Orleans County on the permitting for the sewer line to extend from the STAMP campus to the Medina wastewater treatment plant.

STAMP is New York State’s second mega-site designed to attract high-tech companies like semiconductor, solar, photonics, bio-pharmaceuticals, energy storage companies and other advanced manufacturing operations. The campus consists of 1,250 acres and planned development of more than 6 million square feet of manufacturing space.

Overall economic studies estimate that 10,000 employees could work directly on campus with up to 50,000 supply-type jobs created across Western New York and the Finger Lakes regions. The campus will also bring significant construction work to the region.

“STAMP has been validated by site selection community as a highly attractive greenfield site for large advanced manufacturers, and we continue to work with interested companies that are looking for a mega campus with the right infrastructure that includes large electric, gas, water and sewer capacity combined with our amazing workforce here in the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

“This is evidenced by securing the commitment of 1366 Technologies, a solar wafer manufacturing company which plans to locate its operations on the campus.”

August 22, 2016 - 4:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in michael ranzenhofer, STAMP, business, GCEDC.

Press release:


Empire State Development has approved $46 million in state funding for the WNY STAMP Project. Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has issued the following statement:

“I laud the Genesee County Economic Development Center and Empire State Development for their most recent actions to bring the WNY STAMP Project to fruition. The unanimous approval of $46 million in state funding paves the way for construction to begin in the fall.

"In 2015, I spearheaded the effort to secure $33 million for the project, and I am pleased that it will soon reach its final destination, the largest economic development project ever in Genesee County. The project is a game changer for our region. Now, we are one step closer to creating at least 600 new, full-time jobs for residents of Genesee County.”

August 18, 2016 - 4:55pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, STAMP, empire state development, GCEDC.

Press release:

The Empire State Development (ESD) Board of Directors today approved a total of $46 million in grant funds for infrastructure construction and development at the Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP).

The site, located in Alabama, Genesee County, is currently being prepared for anchor tenant 1366 Technologies to build its first large-scale commercial Direct Wafer™ production plant and significantly grow its workforce. The company, which develops and manufactures high performance silicon wafers for the solar energy industry, will create at least 600 new, full-time jobs and several hundred million dollars of private investment in the Finger Lakes region.

The development of the STAMP site has been a priority project for the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) for the past five years and is a major component of advancing “Finger Lakes Forward.”

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said: “Today's board approval reinforces New York State’s commitment to fostering the clean energy technologies of the future to create jobs and economic opportunities for New Yorkers. These funds ensure infrastructure work continues, bringing us another step closer to STAMP hosting 1366 Technologies, and the hundreds of new high-tech jobs they’re going to generate.”

The funding approved today for the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) enables infrastructure work at the STAMP site to continue, in preparation for the construction of 1366 Technologies’ production plant. The project, announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last October, will progress in phases, with 1366 Technologies initially building a 250MW facility that will ultimately be a 3GW wafer facility. Over the course of the multiphase project, 1366 will invest approximately $700 million, including a $100 million initial investment, becoming the largest economic development project in the history of Genesee County.

Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, said: “The approval of these funds by Empire State Development demonstrates the commitment by Governor Cuomo to keep the development of the STAMP site moving forward. With this approval, the GCEDC will be begin construction of the infrastructure required on site, including the necessary infrastructure for the new solar wafer manufacturing facility, 1366 Technologies.”

The GCEDC will use a grant of up to $18 million for facility and infrastructure construction related to the 130,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and related infrastructure for 1366 Technologies, Inc. – the first anchor tenant at STAMP. These funds are part of the $56.3 million in total state incentives that were critical in securing 1366 Technologies commitment to build its factory in Upstate New York. The additional funds approved today, $28 million, are the remaining balance of a $33 million budget appropriation and are primarily for infrastructure construction at STAMP. In November 2015, the ESD Directors approved $5 million for remaining land acquisition and engineering for roadway, electrical, water, sewer and wastewater systems. A portion of the remaining land parcels have been acquired and the engineering phase of the project is approximately 40-percent complete. The remaining funds needed to await completion of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process, which has been completed and with today’s action by the ESD Directors the balance of the project can move forward.

1366 Technologies develops and manufactures high performance silicon wafers, the building block of solar cells and the most expensive component of a solar panel. The company’s revolutionary Direct Wafer™ technology transforms how the wafers are made and replaces a decades-old, expensive and wasteful manufacturing process with one elegant step. The result slashes the cost of a wafer by 50 percent. As a “drop-in” replacement for conventional wafers, 1366 Technologies makes it easy for cell and module manufacturers to strip out costs without adding complexity.

In September 2011, 1366 was also issued a $150 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to build a commercial-scale manufacturing facility.

The Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) site is part of New York’s High Tech Corridor and is the state’s second shovel-ready mega site (1,250 acres) designed to attract large companies including semiconductor, display/ imaging, photovoltaics, optics/ photonics, and bio-manufacturing firms. The site is located within the New York Power Authority’s low-cost hydropower zone and is serviced by redundant, highly reliable power. Located just five miles north of the New York State Thruway on exit 48A, the site has access to a bi-region population of 2.1 million people. The STAMP site has been validated as a regional priority project by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and is supported by regional business and labor organizations, as well as regional colleges and universities.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward

Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $3.4 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here. -- https://www.ny.gov/programs/upstate-revitalization-initiative

July 14, 2016 - 8:46pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in Genesee County Planning Board, news, STAMP, Oakfield.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center's proposal to create access roads to alleviate traffic on Town of Alabama roads in preparation for the arrival of 1366 Technologies was met with approval Thursday night by the Genesee County Planning Board.

County planners, at their monthly meeting at County Building 2, voted in favor of the construction of two access roads on the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in a single recommendation, ruling that the roads -- one running from Route 77 to Crosby Road and the other running from Crosby Road to the 1366 Technologies solar wafer manufacturing facility's property line -- pose no significant countywide or inter-community impact.

The board was concerned, however, about the possibility of traffic having to stop and lining up on Route 77, a major highway that runs to the NYS Thruway interchange in Pembroke.

Mark Masse, GCEDC's senior vice president of operations, said the plan to divert major construction traffic down these access roads, with turning lanes at the main entrance, is subject to approval by the state Department of Transportation. Masse noted that the DOT currently is reviewing a permit application from the GCEDC.

"We are looking to put in the two roads and reinforce and widen a section of Crosby Road," Masse said. "We're also proposing a left-hand turn off of Route 77 onto the STAMP site, but nothing can be done until DOT approves it."

The GCEDC proposal also must go before the Town of Alabama Planning Board.

The Massachusetts-based 1366 Technologies will be the first tenant at STAMP, taking up about 105 of the 1,250 acres available for development.

The county Planning Board welcomed a request from the entire Village of Oakfield to implement comprehensive plan updates, zoning text and map amendments in line with recommendations of the Green Genesee Smart Genesee project, and to write form-based codes for a portion of the village.

The board's approval came with wording that the village's plan represents "a large step forward for land use policy and regulations" and its form-based code governing future development will "respect the traditional character of the downtown and that of the surrounding residences."

County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari went even further, stating that Oakfield's strategy is on the "cutting edge" and he wished that "everybody in Genesee County adopt something like this." He said Oakfield's model is not quite complete as officials "are tweaking it" to meet the village's specific needs.

In other action, the board:

-- Approved, with modifications, a request from Oakfield Hospitality, LLC, (the Patel family from Erie, Pa.) for variances for a freestanding sign area, number of signs and building height for a proposed Fairfield Inn & Suites to be built on Federal Drive in the Gateway I Corporate Park off Route 98 near the Thruway interchange.

The board voted to allow two signs on the four-story, 62-room hotel, not four as requested. After discussion, Sean Hopkins, a Williamsville attorney representing the Patels, revised the request to three signs, but the board opted to allow signs on the east and south sides only.

Planners did not object to a freestanding sign area of 147 square feet, which is more than the 100-square-foot maximum allowed, or to the 51-foot proposed height of the building, which is 11 feet higher than allowed. Since county planners can only recommend, the final decision on the number of signs is in the hands of the Town of Batavia Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.

-- Approved an update to the Town of Bethany's comprehensive plan, which also is deemed to be "in harmony" with the County Smart Growth Plan and Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan. The board wrote that Bethany's plan addresses timely issues, including renewable energy.

-- Approved exterior changes, specifically a patio, at City Slickers Bar & Grill at 59 Main St., Batavia; two wall signs at Restore, 230 Ellicott St., and a 3,000-square-foot additon to the Genesee ARC recycling center at 3785 W. Main Street Road, Batavia.

-- Approved, with modifications, a sign permit fot a 126-square-foot window sign requested by Victor Marchese, owner of Main Street Pizza, 206 E. Main St., Batavia, stating that the window size is significantly more than the City's 25-percent maximum standard, which, in this case, would be 31.5 square feet.

June 28, 2016 - 1:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, business, STAMP, news.

A Boston-based company that has picked Genesee County for the location of its silicon wafer plant announced a major strategic move today that officials say will provide a tremendous positive impact on cash flow.

Wacker Chemie, a supplier of highly purified silicon, is making a $15 million equity investment in 1366 Technologies through the supply of the silicon that will be used by 1366 to manufacture its advanced silicon wafers.

The silicon wafers will be manufactured in a plant at the Science, Technology & Advanced Maufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama through a process that officials with 1366 say will greatly reduce the cost of solar power.

The partnership will also include a technical collaboration between the two companies. Wacker Chemie will provide expertise in silicon as well as facility design, engineering and construction.

“We see the potential for the Direct Wafer technology to provide an excellent contribution to accelerate global solar adoption," said Ewald Schindlbeck, president, Wacker Polysilicon. "1366 has developed a commercially valid answer to a longtime manufacturing challenge. We’re eager to add our high-quality products and bring our expertise to the effort.” 

Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366, said the partnership is a good sign for the future adoption of his company's groundbreaking solar wafer solution.

“Commercial traction is gained when technical success and financial support are established within the industry," van Mierlo said. "This partnership with the world’s most technically advanced silicon provider clearly demonstrates market acceptance for the Direct Wafer technology. Wacker’s silicon is the best in the industry and has been a crucial competitive edge for Wacker’s customers. It will do the same for 1366."

The manufacturing solution developed by 1366 offers a significant advantage over traditional ingot-based production technologies, according to company officials. The process makes wafers in a single step, pulling them directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multistep, energy- and capital-intensive approach, resulting in significant wafer production cost savings.

June 2, 2016 - 4:41pm

empiredevspeakjune22016-2.jpg

A roomful of business and community leaders heard today from Vincent Esposito, director of Empire State Development’s Finger Lakes regional office, as he talked about the economic development opportunity and effort both regionally and in Batavia.

The gathering comes prior to meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall were officials will discuss Batavia's application for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which is a regional competiton with a $10 million prize. CORRECTION: It's at 5:30 p.m., Monday, at the Generation Center.

Batavia has a good shot at the prize because of all the work already put into improving Downtown, most notably the Batavia Opportunity Area, which has 10 brownfield revitalization projects already in the pipeline.

The Finger Lakes Region has already been a big winner in a statewide competition fro regional economic development areas, receiving a grant of $500 million from the state for projects in the region.

There are three main areas of focus for those funds, Esposito said:

  • Eastman Park in Rochester;
  • Downtown Rochester; and,
  • The STAMP project in Genesee County.

About 50 percent of the $500 million are going to projects in Monroe County, Esposito said, and the rest is spread out in the other county's in the region; however, about two-thirds of that 50 percent is going to Genesee County, he said.

The primary goals of the Finger Lakes regional office is job creation, regional wealth creation, increase private investment and reduce poverty.

In the past five years, economic development activity has created 20,000 new jobs, he said.

The projects expected over the next five years, he said, will result in $6.4 billion in private investments and a conservative estimate of 8,200 new jobs.

"We want to keep that commitment low and then over deliver," he said.

The main economic engines in growth for the region he said are optics/photonics, agriculture and food processing and high-tech wafer and chip manufacturing.

The third area is where GCEDC's STAMP project comes in and why it's attracting a big chunk of the funds from the Finger Lakes Region.

"If ever there was a time to be optimistic about your future, this is it," Esposito said.

empiredevspeakjune22016.jpg

May 6, 2016 - 8:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, STAMP, business, Alabama.

Press release:

Silicon wafer manufacturer 1366 Technologies (“1366”) today announced it has received a $10 million investment from the Hanwha Investment Corp., one of Korea’s leading private equity/venture capital firms with more than $500 million under management. The funds will be used toward the construction of 1366’s first large-scale commercial factory, scheduled to be online in 2017.

“Our Direct Wafer™ technology represents one of the most significant manufacturing innovations in solar, with the potential to propel the industry forward and deliver dramatic cost advantages,” said Frank van Mierlo, CEO, 1366 Technologies. “We are thrilled that Hanwha Investment Corporation, with its deep expertise in and understanding of the manufacturing industry, has invested.

"It is a tremendous validation of our commercialization plans, and a clear signal that we’re poised to disrupt the $10 billion and growing silicon solar wafer market.”

“Hanwha Investment Corporation actively seeks out companies with groundbreaking technologies that transform industries. In just a short period of time, 1366 has moved from proof of concept to commercial-ready technology, achieving technical milestones steadily and rapidly. We believe the 1366 team is well positioned for commercial success,” said Woojae Hahn, president and CEO, Hanwha Investment Corporation.

1366’s Direct Wafer technology is a transformative manufacturing process that offers significant advantages over traditional cast-and-saw wafer production technologies. The process makes wafers in a single step, pulling them directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multi-step, energy- and capital-intensive approach, resulting in significant wafer production cost savings.

CLARIFICATION: We were asked to clarify a prior report that said the Hannah company that is purchasing solar wafers and the Hannah company making the investments in 1366 are the same company. While related, they are not the same company and operate independently.

April 13, 2016 - 11:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, business, GCEDC, STAMP, news.

Press release:

Hanwha Q CELLS Co., Ltd., (“Hanwha Q CELLS”) (NASDAQ: HQCL) and 1366 Technologies, Inc., (“1366”) today announced that they have entered into a supply agreement in which 1366 will supply up to 700 MW of wafers using 1366’s proprietary Direct Wafer™ technology to Hanwha Q CELLS over a five-year period.

This deal follows a year-long strategic partnership and collaborative R&D efforts to commercialize 1366’s Direct Wafer™ technology with Hanwha Q CELLS’ Q.ANTUM cell technology. 1366 will supply the wafers from its planned U.S. manufacturing facility in New York State, scheduled to be online in 2017.

The agreement ensues months of intense technical collaboration between the two companies during which a series of performance records for the Direct Wafer™ technology were achieved. Hanwha Q CELLS and 1366 jointly reached a maximum efficiency of 19.1% using Direct Wafer™products in Hanwha Q CELLS’ Q.ANTUM cell, as independently verified by the Fraunhofer ISE.

“This agreement with one of the world’s most respected and innovative solar manufacturers is, no doubt, a significant milestone for our business. It further demonstrates the compelling capabilities of the Direct Wafer™ technology and the readiness of this innovation, and establishes its long-term bearing on the industry,” said Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366 Technologies. “We’ve found a strong partner, Hanwha Q CELLS, and we are extremely proud of the work we’ve accomplished together.”

“This agreement aligns with our continuing efforts to bring about world leading technologies that enable solar energy to be more competitive and more affordable,” commented Seong-woo Nam, CEO of Hanwha Q CELLS.  “We are pleased with the progress we have made together during the past year and excited about the potential of 1366’s Direct Wafer™ products with Hanwha’s cell and module technologies to deliver further cost reductions and LCOE competitiveness to standard multi-crystalline wafer-based modules.”

Provided that 1366 meets certain terms and conditions related to its wafer qualification and timing of delivery as agreed by both parties, Hanwha Q CELLS’s commitment to purchase up to 700 MW of wafers over a period of five years will commence.

1366’s Direct Wafer technology is a transformative manufacturing process that offers significant advantages over traditional cast-and-saw wafer production technologies. The process makes wafers in a single step, pulling them directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multi-step, energy- and capital-intensive approach, resulting in significant wafer production cost savings.

Hanwha Q CELLS' Q.ANTUM technology is based on PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) architecture and includes many additional technological features for maximum energy yield under real conditions. Q.ANTUM significantly enhances power output, low-light and temperature-behavior, while at the same time offering all of Hanwha Q CELLS' VDE certified quality standards like Anti-PID protection, Hot-spot protect, and Tra.Q laser marking.

Additional Note: Hanwha was part of a Series C funding round in 2010 that raised $20 million in venture capital to back 1366 Technologies. It was announced at that time that Hanwha planned to become a 1366 customer once production began. The latest available information online indicates that 1366 has raised more than $70 million from private investors.

March 4, 2016 - 9:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, Alabama, STAMP, GCEDC, business, news.

gcedcannual2016.jpg

gcedcannual2016-2.jpgWhen the 1366 Technologies plant opens in Alabama in 2017, it will be profitable on the first day of operation, Brian Eller, VP of manufacturing, revealed today during the annual meeting of the Genesee County Economic Development Center at Batavia Downs.

The solar wafer manufacturer has recently completed contracts with solar panel manufacturers that will fulfill orders for 60 percent of plant's production capacity, Eller said.

"This is part of the steady, deliberate process," Eller said. "We keep knocking them off to reduce the risk to the business, because if you sell everything before you start, then you execute, you don't have to go to market and figure out your market."

Eller was the keynote speaker for the annual meeting, which was attended by more than 350 people.

During his 20-minute presentation, Eller described the methodical approach 1366 Technologies has taken to build its business and the foundation for success. It's a classic start-up model: Begin with a prototype product and get it to market and see how it does, concentrate on a single product, then target a niche of customers, then scale your production once you're ready to reach a market with the potential to achieve substantial returns on investment.

The company was founded in 2008 in Bedford, Mass., where it set up a small, prototype plant to test its proprietary process for manufacturing silicon wafer chips for solar panels. That plant has produced and the company has sold thousands of wafers.

With the process established, 1366 began looking for a site appropriate for its business, settling on Alabama and GCEDC's STAMP project because of the promising local workforce, proximity to universities and the availability of clean, hydro energy.

"One of STAMP's strengths is the talent pool in the region," Eller said. “You know, the thing about changing the world is you need skilled people around you."

The company is planning a $700 million investment in its new facility, to be constructed on about 8 percent of the 12,500-acre WNY Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park. STAMP is the brainchild of Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC. The center is assisting in the project with tax abatements worth a potential $97 million over 10 years. The state and federal government have also pledged millions for infrastructure at the project site, which GCEDC and regional economic development agencies are working to fill with other high-tech manufacturers.

When the plant is at full capacity -- producing enough wafers each year to provide three gigawatts of electricity -- it will employ 1,000 people. In the near term, 1366 will hire 150 people, though Eller said there isn't a timeline on the hiring process yet. The company is still in the process of hiring consultants, planners, architects and engineers.

Eller did promise the development process will be public and transparent and that all who compete for contracts on the project will do so on a level playing field.

Eller is full of confidence that 1366 will revolutionize solar technology.

"Our process slashes the cost of making the wafer in half and in doing so drastically reduces the cost of solar energy," Eller said. "Those reductions, well, they accelerate adoption. We believe solar will be ubiquitous. It will displace coal as the cheapest fuel source on the planet."

The current process, which the industry has used for nearly four decades, requires multiple steps, using several machines and takes days. The 1366 process involves one machine that will produce a new wafer every 20 seconds.

The technology was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Instead of cutting and grinding solar ingots into flat wafers, which takes energy and produces waste, the 1366 process melts the silicon and floats it into thin layers that harden into silicon wafers.

Eller compared it to the Pilkington float glass process developed in the 1950s and still the process used today for manufacturing flat glass.

"Manufacturing process innovations like ours have true staying power," Eller said. "They simply don’t come along every day."

The solar industry is booming the world over.

Last year, 59 gigawatts of new solar capacity was brought online. That's the result of 240 million solar panels being produced. Eller said that's a big number, so to help understand it, he said, that's more electrical capacity than needed for a year by the entire State of New York.

"We make the most expensive part of the solar panel for half the cost," Eller said. "That was a hard problem to solve, but we've done it. Now we're free to pursue an $8 billion and growing solar market without distraction."

Eller acknowledged that there has been some bad news in the solar industry in recent years, with companies going under or changing directions, but Eller said the slow and deliberate process 1366 has pursued to build the company puts it in a position to succeed.

"The industry consists of exceptional businesses, both established and new, that are efficient, innovative and motivated," Eller said. "To be young in solar is not without its challenges and we are aware of other companies in solar that struggled to compete globally, focused on the wrong technologies or just simply scaled too quickly," Eller said. "We are focused on bringing a highly innovative product to market with deliberate and steady progress."

CLARIFICATIONS:

The folks at 1366 asked us to clarify, by "Day 1," they mean when the first plant is at full production, not the day the plant doors open. There will be a three- or four-month ramp up period to bring the plant up to production levels, which includes hiring and training workers.

Also, in reference to the amount of power from last year's productions of solar panels, we misunderstood.  It's not enough electricity to power of all of New York. It's enough for all New York households.

For prior coverage of 1366 Technologies, click here.

gcedcannual2016-3.jpg

Above, silicon nuggets. Silicon is produced from super heating silica, commonly found in sand, but also found in clay and rock (it's the most common mineral on the planet). When 1366 started to develop its process, silicon was still not a common wafer ingredient, but now 90 percent of all solar wafers manufactured today use silicon.

gcedcannual2016-4.jpg

Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer (above) and Assemblyman Steve Hawley (below) both spoke briefly and praised and thanked each other for their united effort to help provide the legislative support to bring 1366 to STAMP.

gcedcannual2016-6.jpg

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Steve Hyde.

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Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the Genesee County Legislature.

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GCEDC presented an Economic Development Award to the Batavia Development Corp., represented by Ray Chaya, the City of Batavia, Eugene Jankowski, and the Town of Batavia, Patti Michalak. Steve Hyde, back row, and GCEDC Board Chairman Paul Battaglia to the right.

February 26, 2016 - 1:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, batavia, news, Alabama, STAMP, GCEDC.

Press release:

Brian Eller, COO of 1366 Technologies, the Massachusetts-based solar company and first tenant of the Town of Alabama's STAMP (Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park), will be the featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) on Friday, March 4, at Batavia Downs.

Registration and networking begins at 11:30 a.m. and the event will conclude at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Other speakers include: 

·         New York State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer;

·         New York State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley;

·         Genesee County Legislature Chairman Raymond Cianfini;

·         Tom Kucharski, president and CEO, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise; 

·         Paul Battaglia, GCEDC Board chairman; and,

·         Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC

“We are excited to welcome Brian Eller of 1366 Technologies to speak at our annual meeting as the company invests its capital and resources right here in Genesee County, which is expected to create approximately 1,000 new jobs,” said Steve Hyde, GCEDC president and CEO.

“We look forward to celebrating the future economic impact of 1366 Technologies in our region, as well as recognizing our many public and private sector partners who have made played a critical role in helping us grow our local economy within the past year.”  

The GCEDC will unveil its 2015 report and announce the recipient of the annual Economic Development Partner of the Year Award.

Tickets cannot be purchased at the door, and seating is limited. For more information or to register please contact Rachael Tabelski at 585-343-4866or at [email protected].

January 20, 2016 - 4:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, STAMP, Alabama, business.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center and 1366 Technologies have developed an online intake form for local companies interested in pursuing potential supply chain/operational opportunities. The 1366 Technologies solar wafer manufacturing facility will be constructed in the town of Alabama and is scheduled to open in 2017.

“There is a tremendous amount of talent and skill in the Genesee County area. We’re excited to begin the process of identifying those companies across the region that will contribute to the success of our project and our operations in Alabama,” said Brian Eller, COO, 1366 Technologies.

The form can be accessed atwww.1366tech.com or www.wnystamp.com.

“The exciting thing about economic development is not only the direct jobs created by companies like 1366 Technologies, but the indirect jobs that are created through supply chain opportunities,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde.

informANALYTICS, an economic development software tool, calculated that approximately 1,600 indirect jobs will be created. The overall economic impact of the direct, indirect and induced jobs is expected to be in the range of $1.5 billion.

One of the ways in which 1366 Technologies will conduct outreach to the supply chain network is through the marketing and business networking assistance of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise (BNE) and Greater Rochester Enterprise (GRE), both of which played a key role in attracting the company.

“Because of the highly skilled and talented workforce in the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions, 1366 Technologies is not going to have any problems finding the right partners to make their operations in New York State a tremendous success,” said Mark S. Peterson, president and CEO of GRE.

“The launch of the 1366 Technologies intake form provides great opportunities for Western New York companies and their employees to capitalize on this exciting high tech industry,” said BNE President and CEO Thomas A. Kucharski. “It also reinforces the longer term value of our economic development efforts by reminding us that 1366 Technologies’ economic impact extends well beyond their initial investment and job creation. That benefit will continue to grow with the success of this great company in our region.”

January 6, 2016 - 1:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, Alabama, business, 1366 Technologies.

1366hearingjan52016.jpg

After the questions, concerns, challenges and outright objections to 1366 Technologies coming to the Town of Alabama to build silicon wafers to capture the energy of the sun, resident Dave Dunn said, "I think we've all forgot one thing here tonight: Thank you for coming here."

That statement drew a round of applause from most of the 75 or so people who attended the public hearing Tuesday night on proposed tax incentives to help Bedford, Mass.-based 1366 Technologies build its $700 million facility on 105 acres of the planned high-tech park known as STAMP (Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park).

There were only a handful of speakers during the hearing, and only a couple more who raised objections during a follow-up question and answer period, including one man who stormed out during an impassioned speech by Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, on the need for economic development to help keep our children in Western New York.

The state is planning on spending more than $5 million on land acquisition and infrastructure to make STAMP possible, and 1366 could receive another $56 million in incentives from New York along with tax abatements of more than $35 million through GCEDC.

It is those local incentives that the GCEDC Board will be asked to approve in an upcoming vote and last night's public hearing was required in advance of it.

Mark Masse, VP of business development for GCEDC, opened the hearing with an overview of the financing and financial impact of the proposed 1366 project.

The venture is expected to lead to 1,000 jobs at the plant within a few years, with another 1,593 jobs generated by companies that will provide services and support to the new company, and some 2,600 jobs created by local economic growth.

That's more than 6,500 local jobs within 10 years, Masse said.

Entry-level jobs will start at $16 an hour, with production jobs going up to $24 an hour based on duties and experience.

The 1366 payroll is expected to reach nearly $40 million. The indirect payroll could exceed $60 million and induced jobs would add another $30.3 million in payroll, for an anticipated increase in local payroll of $130 million. (CORRECTION: In my notes, I left off some zeros. The payroll numbers have been updated to correct that mistake.)

To help finance the project, GCEDC is proposing a PILOT -- payment in lieu of taxes. That's a break on the property tax. There would be property tax due on the current assessed value of the 105-acre parcel, but there would be no new taxes on the increase in assessed value over the first two years of the project. The taxes would then gradually increase over the next eight years. 

There are also proposed tax abatements on the sales tax on construction materials as well as relief from the mortgage tax.

Masse then turned the floor over to Brian Eller, chief operations officer for 1366, who shared some of his company's plans and an overview of what 1366 will manufacture.

Eller explained that 1366, working with scientists at MIT, have developed a whole new manufacturing process for silicon wafers -- the main component of solar panels, that the company believes will be cheaper to manufacture and produce less waste than the process used by every other company in the world.

Silicon is the second most plentiful mineral on Earth and is usually extracted from sand. For solar wafers, manufacturers receive ingots of silicon that are typically cut and ground into square objects. 

That's an extremely wasteful production process, according to a video Eller played for the audience. Much of the silicon is wasted, as well as the blades and diamond-tipped twine used to cut the wafers.

The process developed at MIT involves melting the silicon and rolling out flat wafers, much like modern glass manufacturing.

The process is a third faster and a third cheaper than current techniques, and no silicon goes to waste, and it uses less energy.

The goal of 1366 is to use its technology to produce wafers that eventually make solar power as cheap to consume as coal energy.

What 1366 isn't doing is making entire solar panels. They are only making the wafers, and they aren't making solar panels.

Elon Musk's Solar City plant, going up in Buffalo, will make rooftop panels, but 1366 isn't producing wafers for rooftop panels, so there isn't currently an opportunity for the two companies to work together directly. The wafers produced by 1366 are intended for industrial solar energy farms, which currently makes up 70 percent of the worldwide solar energy market.

One speaker during the public hearing expressed concern that 1366 would get all of these tax breaks, build this big building, and then pull out like Pepsi did with the Quaker Muller Dairy plant.

There are, however, some significant differences between the Quaker Muller operation and 1366's plans. Pepsi and Muller entered a market that we now know was saturated in an industry that is so competitive that profit margins are always squeezed. There was no chance for Muller's imitation Greek yogurt to achieve a dominant market position.

In his best-selling business book, "Zero to One," venture capitalist Peter Thiel says new businesses should be built around innovations that are a 10-times improvement over anything currently in the market. Thiel also advises startups to aim for only a segment of a market and achieve dominance in that segment before growing. Pepsi and Muller appear to have violated both of those guidelines by entering a market that already had dominant manufacturers, such as Chobani, Dannon and Fage, and aiming for a share of the entire market, not just a segment where it might have a chance to dominate. 

Eller thinks that 1366's lower cost, less wasteful process is that 10-times improvement Thiel recommends (though he hadn't yet read Thiel's book when asked about it) and that 1366 is going after a segment of the market where it can achieve dominance.

Only a portion, less than $100 million, of $700 million required to build the 1366 Technologies plant to full capacity is coming from public investment. There is also a $150 million loan guarantee backed by the Department of Energy. When the project was announced at Genesee Community College in October, company CEO Frank van Mierlo indicated he was investing his own money in the project. The company has reportedly raised $70 million in venture capital from investors such as Hanwha Chemical, a major user of silicon wafers, as well as from Ventizz Capital Fund, North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners. The company has not discussed any other efforts to raise additional capital or the timing of capital needs. They would not need the entire $700 million in the bank to start construction.

Construction is expected to start in May or June.

The first jobs should be filled in the fall or early winter of this year, with hiring continuing through the middle part of 2017 and then more jobs added as production capacity is increased.

Eller will move to here from Bedford to join the ranks of the locally employed, along with as many as five current 1366 managers and executives, though the company will remain headquartered in Bedford. That's also where the company will continue research and development operations.

There was a bit of discussion between Eller, Masse and meeting attendees about workforce development and who will get hired at the new plant. 

Lorna Klotzbach had several objections to the proposal, among them were questions about whether there were really sufficient potential employees in the region. She also shared with some other speakers a concern that STAMP was converting farmland and wildlife refuge into industrial land.

Al Files, who would later get up in a huff and storm out during Hyde's speech, said he thought it made a lot more sense to build where there's already big buildings and infrastructure.

"In my opinion, I think it's stupid," Files said. "We're wasting all of this property when it could be built in Rochester, Buffalo or Batavia."

Eller said 1366 was attracted to STAMP, out of 300 locations considered, for two primary reasons. First is cheap and clean hydroelectric power, and then there is the regional workforce. Eller said the company hired a consultant who studied a number of variables for several possible plant locations and STAMP scored the highest for workforce potential.

Creating local jobs and reversing two generations of economic decline is what STAMP is all about, Hyde said.

"At the end of the day, what drove us to work so hard to attract a company like 1366 to our community and our region is creating jobs for our kids so they can either stay here or come back home," Hyde said. "All the rest of these questions are good and relevant, but if we take a little look at the big picture, we’ve all been losing tax base and these guys are going to start that trend of turning that around. 

"We can’t guarantee that companies are going to be successful, but even with the situation in Batavia, where Muller Quaker was, we built that ag park, two companies came in and spent over $200 million there. The market didn’t work. They entered the market late. They ended up having to shut down and that’s a disappointment, but the beauty is, one of the best dairy companies in the nation is coming in because that ag park is there and they're filling it back up and probably hiring more people than Muller ever would have. The investment model that we’ve used over the last decade is working. It’s creating good jobs for our people and our community. It’s creating tax base.

"I just wanted to paint a little bit of the bigger picture," Hyde added a few sentences later. "We’re absolutely fortunate to have a company like 1366 be willing to come here and start to build that high-tech, entrepreneurial ecosystem. It will mean a lot of jobs for our kids. … I’ll tell you right now if we get a thousand jobs from this company over the next decade, and that turns around to be about four thousand jobs all over this area, you’re going to see an economic boom around here that we haven’t seen in 50 years."

At which point, Files interjected, "This is an agricultural area. This is not a manufacturing area."

Hyde said projects like 1366 will take the pressure off of ag to support the entire local economy, and that the land the plant will use is less than 3 percent of the available acreage in Genesee County, and it's the least productive land in the county.

"We looked at all of that," Hyde said.

But Files was no longer in the room to hear it.

1366hearingjan52016-2.jpg

I couldn't find online the video Eller showed, but in looking for it, I found this interesting video.

December 29, 2015 - 5:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, Alabama, business, GCEDC.

Here's a portion of a press release from Empire State Development about a series of grants recently approved.

Empire State Development today announced that its Board of Directors recently approved $101.1 million in economic development resources for 23 projects that are spurring growth and opportunity in every region of the state. The funding supports projects that are creating 634 new jobs and retaining 1,531 existing New York State jobs – many of which have already been created or retained. The approved assistance is leveraging more than $822 million in private investment and other public funding to support local businesses and projects that are strengthening local economies today, while building a strong foundation for future economic growth and job creation.

“The funding approved by the Board is supporting regionally significant projects that are fostering growth and creating new opportunities statewide,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “Whether it’s by aiding business expansion and retention, supporting local revitalization projects, or bolstering regional tourism, the funding approved today will boost economic activity from New York City to the Finger Lakes.”

...

Finger Lakes Region 
Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing (Finger Lakes Region - Genesee County) – $5,000,000
The Genesee County Industrial Development Agency, doing business as Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), will use a grant of up to $5,000,000 for the cost of land acquisition,  engineering, and soft costs related to infrastructure development for 1366 Technologies, Inc., the first tenant of the Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Alabama, NY. 1366 Technologies is a solar energy company with an innovative approach to manufacturing the silicon wafers that are the building block of solar cells. The company chose the STAMP site out of 300 possible locations due to the site’s positive momentum and commitment to growing manufacturing interests. This project will be completed in August 2016 and aligns with the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council’s plan in that it supports advanced technology and manufacturing and is identified as key to the region in the Industrial Development and Infrastructure category. 

December 18, 2015 - 10:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, GCEDC, STAMP, Alabama, business.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) authorized a public hearing for 1366 Technologies, Inc., and approved a final resolution for an amendment to an original application for assistance from Manning Squires Hennig Co., Inc., at the agency’s Dec. 17 board meeting.

1366 Technologies, Inc., plans to build its first commercial Direct Wafer™ production plant at the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama.

The project includes the construction of a new 130,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that will grow to eventually create 1,000 full-time jobs and approximately another 5,000 construction and indirect and induced jobs. The total economic impact is preliminarily estimated to be in the range of $1.5 billion over the next 10 years.

1366 Technologies, Inc., is seeking approval for approximately $34.7 million in sales, mortgage and property tax exemptions. The planned capital investment will total approximately $700 million.

“As the largest economic development project in the history of Genesee County, 1366 Technologies will undoubtedly be a game changer in establishing our region as a major high-tech manufacturing hub,” said GCEDC Chairman Paul Battaglia. “This project also will create hundreds of manufacturing jobs and indirect supply chain jobs not to mention hundreds of jobs throughout the construction process.”

The GCEDC board also approved amended incentives for Manning Squires Hennig Co., Inc., a well-known general contractor in Finger Lakes and Western New York regions. The company will expand its corporate offices and maintenance facilities in the Town of Batavia by up to 5,000 square feet, as well as renovate its existing shop and office space.

The project was approved for sales tax, mortgage tax and property tax exemptions totaling $215,529 in incentives. The project’s capital investment is approximately $2.2 million.

“We are pleased to see continued investments being made to improve the facilities of existing companies like Manning Squires Hennig in the Town of Batavia,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO, GCEDC. “We remain committed to help existing businesses in the County expand their operations in our ongoing efforts to enhance the business climate throughout the region.”

In other agency business, the board approved a 2-percent salary increase for all GCEDC staff for 2016, as well as an increase for the GCEDC office manager.

December 11, 2015 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, STAMP, Alabama, Le Roy.

Five projects in Genesee County are receiving more than $2.1 million in state aid, the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council announced.

The aid is part of $500 million awarded to the council by the Governor's Office.

From the announcement:

Buildout of major sites in Genesee County, including: $1,500,000 to the Town of Alabama to help build water infrastructure to serve the STAMP site; $920,000 total for the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia and the Le Roy Food and Technology Park; $750,000 for the soon-to-be built Genesee Biogas facility at the Batavia Agri-Business Park; and $500,000 to revitalize the Newberry Building in Downtown Batavia.

From the announcement:

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) was named an Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) Best Plan Awardee for its new strategic plan, entitled “United for Success: Finger Lakes Forward.” This means the region will receive $500 million over five years, in addition to economic development funds announced through Round V of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council competition. In total, more than $2 billion in economic development resources was awarded statewide through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative and REDC competition.

“We are proud that Governor Cuomo and New York State have singled out the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council as a ‘best plan awardee’ and that we will receive half a billion dollars to move the region forward,” stated Joel Seligman and Danny Wegman, co-chairs of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. “This is recognition that Governor Cuomo believes in the Finger Lakes and is giving our region the attention it deserves. With this infusion of funding in our pockets, we are united for success and ready to move our communities forward.”

The Finger Lakes Region’s URI plan consists of three industry clusters, or pillars, that will act as the core drivers of job and output growth: optics, photonics and imaging; agriculture and food production; and next generation manufacturing and technology. 

October 21, 2015 - 4:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, GCEDC, Alabama, business.

From Steve Hyde, president and CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center:

As we take a collective breath from this month’s exhilarating announcement about 1366 Technologies becoming the first tenant at the Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama, we can look back as a community and realize what a magnificent accomplishment this is for Genesee County.

Governor Cuomo’s announcement created a buzz unlike anything we have experienced in recent times; and why not – the first tenant at STAMP is the largest economic development project in the County’s history. It triggers the first phase of what we believe will be a transformative economic development game changer for the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions for generations to come.

The public and private sector support throughout the 10 years to bring STAMP from a concept to this first development has been building steadily. This support gained steam and momentum especially over the last 24 months when it became a crescendo after a coalition of local and state government officials, organized labor, regional business and economic development agencies, higher education and others helped secure $33 million in the state budget as part of the Fiscal 2014-2015 budget deliberations last year.

Like any effort of this magnitude, you need a solid foundation of support, or else the effort crumbles. The foundation for STAMP was built at the local level and in particular the annual funding provided to the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) by Genesee County. This foundation was further enhanced and enabled through the longtime support of the Town of Alabama.

Last week the Governor and other state leaders as well as local and regional elected officials, regional economic development partners and others from the Buffalo and Rochester metropolitan regions came to Batavia to celebrate this monumental achievement. I wanted to take this opportunity on behalf of the GCEDC Board and staff to thank the Town of Alabama for its steadfast support of our efforts to make STAMP a reality. 

From the town’s representatives in the state legislature, Senator Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Hawley, to Genesee County Legislative Chairman Ray Cianfrini to the members of the town board: Supervisor Dan Mangino, Deputy Supervisor Janet Sage, Council members Bill Cleveland, Pam LaGrou, Kevin Fisher and Planning Board Chair Ron Gilbert – thank you! The work of the town was further enhanced through the participation of town officials Sage, Fisher and Gilbert on their STAMP Committee.

It also should be noted that elected officials represent the interests of the constituents in the communities they represent. In this regard, the town has been extremely forthcoming in sharing information about STAMP to residents. These meetings also have provided town residents a forum to provide their feedback and comments. It is a process that we look forward to continue to work with the town on now and in the future as we move to implement our first project on the STAMP campus.

There is an old saying that local government is where the rubber meets the road. In this instance, local government in the Town of Alabama is where the silicon meets the solar wafer.

October 21, 2015 - 3:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, GCEDC, oakfield-alabama, schools, education.

oastemoct202015.jpg

Before the start of the school year, John Ioge figured he was interested in a career in civil engineering, maybe mechanical engineering or perhaps the medical field or even teaching. Whatever it was, he figured he would eventually wind up in a job far from home.

Now, the sophomore at Oakfield-Alabama is honing in on a career in mechanical engineering and feeling pretty certain he will be able to find work in Genesee County.

The developments recently with WNY STAMP as well as a new course at O-A in STEM is driving much of John's change in thinking.

"I now realize there are going to be jobs in this area," John said. "At one point, I didn't think I was going to stay here because there's not any jobs, but now there will be jobs at home. So why not stay home? Why not stay where my family is?"

O-A Principal Lynn Muscarella sought to start the STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for students just like John. She realized that with STAMP coming to Alabama, she wanted to make sure Oakfield-Alabama students had a good grasp of career opportunities in STEM.

"Last year I had seniors who weren't even aware of what is happening in their own backyard," Muscarella said. "I said, I can't allow this to happen. These kids are right here, so why not get them somewhat prepared to think about what's going to be here so they can stay if they want to."

STAMP stands for Science, Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Park, a 1,340-acre parcel in Alabama that the Genesee County Economic Development Center and its economic development partners from throughout the region are marketing as an ideal location for high-tech manufacturing.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in town to announce the first new development in the park, 1366 Technologies, a Massachusetts-based company that will construct a new plant to make silicon wafers for solar energy panels. The plant will employ from 600 to 1,000 people once fully operational, perhaps as soon as early 2017.

The STEM classes at O-A are part of the sophomore-year curriculum for the first time and will run throughout the school year with classroom time every other day for the participating students.

The instructors are Kathy Rushlow and David Porter, with Rushlow developing most of the course.

Seven weeks after the start of the school year, Rushlow is seeing some progress among her students, many of whom came to class without a clear understanding of what sort of degrees colleges offer and what their post-high-school educational options are.

"I think they are much more aware of what STEM is and what the different career choices are in the STEM field," Rushlow said. "I think that's been eye-opening."

The classes aren't intended to give students any kind of training that will lead them to a particular job; rather, it's an overview to expose them to the array of options available to them if they decide STEM might be something of interest.

The class also reinforces the importance of the other coursework in high school.

"It's surprising to them to see there's a second side to that coin, that even in the medical fields, they need that science and math, that background, on top of the medical information," Rushlow said.

oastemoct202015-2.jpg

October 8, 2015 - 12:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, STAMP, GCEDC, business.

Video produced by Greater Rochester Enterprise covering yesterday's announcement at GCC.

October 8, 2015 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, GCEDC, STAMP, Alabama, business, GCC.

1366techoct72015.jpg

Frank van Mierlo is clearly a man who believes he has a role to play in changing the world.

The phrase "change the world" did, in fact, pass over the lips of the solar energy entrepreneur once today while he addressed a room full of local and state dignitaries in Stuart Steiner Theater at Genesee Community College. Van Mierlo was there, joined by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to unveil ambitious plans for a $700 million investment by his company to build a silicon wafer factory on 105 acres of Genesee County land that could employ 1,000 people as soon as 2017.

Even the name of his company, 1366 Technologies, is a homage to van Mierlo's far-reaching global ambitions. Sunlight falls on the planet at the rate of 1,366 Watts per square meter, hence 1366. The number is significant because at that rate, the sun sends us 130,000 terawatts of energy each year. We only need a fraction of that, 17 TW, to power civilization.

"We need to rapidly deploy solar," van Mierlo said in an interview after the announcement. "We need to grow this industry at 30 percent a year. If we do that and we keep growing at 30 percent a year, by 2030, we will produce enough solar energy to power the planet."

And at a price cheaper than coal.

The solar energy market has been growing by 30 percent a year for 30 years, with rapidly improving technology, and like the power of compound interest, the rate of advancement is seemingly -- seemingly -- accelerating.

The technology that powers 1366 was incubated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and van Mierlo describes it as a game changer. The company's process cuts silicon waste, reduces the expense of production by 50 percent and takes a third less energy to produce a wafer than current manufacturing techniques.

Ely Sachs, a former MIT professor, is a partner in 1366 and the engineer behind the process 1366 uses to create its wafers. Rather than make clumps of silicon that are carved and cut into wafers, as is common in manufacturing solar wafers now, the 1366 process is more like making sheets of glass, poured directly from molten silicon.

The goal of 1366, van Mierlo said, is to make solar more affordable than coal.

"When solar was first introduced in 1970s, the cost was $7 per kilowatt hour," van Mierlo said. "A kilowatt hour, a little bit of a wonky term, but if you take an old-fashioned 100-watt lightbulb, you leave it on for 10 hours, that's a kilowatt hour. At the time, $7 per kilowatt hour, was extremely expensive. Now, 40 years later, unsubsidized, the cost on a good installation, in a sunny area, the cost is down to 7 cents per kilowatt hour.

Coal is currently about 3.2 cents per kilowatt hour.

The word unsubsidized is important. Solar may be one of the most heavily subsidized industries in America right now.

While states, including New York, offer tax credits for consumers and businesses to install solar panels, the federal government offers a 30-percent tax credit, but that's a tax credit set to expire next year and there is opposition in Washington to extending it. There is some concern that the solar industry has already grown "too big to fail" and ending the tax credit will cost more than 100,000 jobs nationally.

The political winds of the issue leave van Mierlo undaunted. Solar is simply an imperative society must pursue if we're going to change the world.

"A 30-percent growth rate only works when it's a team effort, so it's absolutely essential that everybody pitches in," van Mierlo said. "People like us have to pitch in. We have to come with the technology and the innovation. We have to deliver the cost reductions and we absolutely need broad support to keep growing fast enough. In the end, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you believe in it, you support it, the cost will come down and it will bring economic prosperity. If you say it's never going to work and you walk away from it, well, then it will become impossible to make progress and that also becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy."

Cuomo has bet big on solar, backing a $1 billion investment known as NY-Sun and WNY is now poised to become a hub of solar energy production. Earlier this year, Solar City began construction on a 1.2-million-square-foot solar panel factory in Buffalo with the promise of creating 1,400 jobs. A major investor in Solar City is Elon Musk, the entrepreneur who helped launch PayPal and used the fortune that company brought him to launch Space X and Tesla Motors. Officials with Solar City said just a week ago that the panels it will produce in Buffalo will be the world's most efficient, using its own proprietary technology.

Musk is well known in tech circles for dreaming of saving the world through technology. Like Musk, van Mierlo is leveraging prior business success to help fund his own plant-saving ambitions. Prior to cofounding 1366, he owned a robotics company, again based on technology developed at MIT, that he eventually sold.

"It's true that I have some economic freedom, and working on something that matters, that's just a fun thing to do," van Mierlo said. "Given a choice, you outta do something that is worthwhile. Energy is an interesting problem and one that needs solving and I think we're going to play a big part in the solution."

The new 1366 plant will take up only about 8 percent of the 12,500-acre WNY Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park -- STAMP -- in Alabama, a project Genesee County Economic Development Center CEO Steve Hyde has been working on for more than a decade. Nearly every speaker today, including Cuomo, Empire State Development CEO Howard Zemsky, Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle praised Hyde's vision and tenacity in creating and sticking with STAMP, even as doubters and naysayers predicted it would never work.

"This is a game changer," Cuomo said. "A hundred-and-thirty-thousand-square-foot building. At the end of the day, as many as 1,000 jobs. Quality jobs. High-tech jobs. Well paying jobs feeding off an educated workforce being nurtured by some of the great educational institutions in this state. That is the future.

"And the way it happened is the way it should happen," he added. "The IDA worked with the county. The county worked with the region. Two regions collaborated. Western New York and the Finger Lakes, not competing, but actually collaborating and getting a world-class entrepreneur with a phenomenal product that not only can create jobs and make money but can also make this world a better world."

Van Mierlo said when the 1366 plant is fully operational, it will churn out enough wafers each year to generate three gigawatts of power. A nuclear power plant, by comparison, might generate a single gigawatt of power each year.

Increased production and distribution will help bring the cost of solar energy down, which is what van Mierlo said he is really after.

"When solar is 2 cents a kilowatt hour, we can pay for installations that are less than ideal, can pay for energy storage and you will end up with a clean solution that is actually affordable," van Mierlo said. "I'm a firm believer that it's actually possible here to have a solution that helps the economy, but it's not going to come easy.

"The important thing now: Manage the energy supply so that it doesn't threaten life on the planet and that we end up with a solution that doesn't compromise our economy either. We absolutely need investment. We need support. But we also need to bring the cost down so it helps the economy and not just a continuous investment plan."

With the first project scheduled to break ground in the spring, the state will now release some $33 million in grant money pledged to create the infrastructure -- roads, sewers, utilities -- necessary for STAMP to attract manufacturing businesses. While 1366 will benefit indirectly from this investment, the direct subsidies 1366 will receive are those frequently approved by the GCEDC board, from a reduction in taxes on the increased assessment of the property (and the increased assessment will be substantial in this case), to mortgage tax relief to sales tax abatement on materials. The total package will be worth $97 million over 10 years.

Those incentives certainly played a role in 1366's decision to come to Genesee County, van Mierlo said, but he was also attracted by the workforce the area's universities can provide, the central location between Rochester and Buffalo and, most importantly, the inexpensive, clean energy provided by Niagara Falls.

"Hydropower is a real attraction and will be one that is a real advantage to us," van Mierlo said. "It cuts the cost of making the wafer by a factor of three and it's clean. The use of hydropower means there is no C02 at all. Steve Hyde calls it 'clean to green,' and that's a phrase that has really come to life."

Now that 1366 is coming to STAMP and boosters have a real project to talk about with site selectors and potential tenants, it's going to get easier to attract the next business into the park, both Hyde and Mark Peterson, CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise said.

Those who make decisions about where to construct high-tech facilities are going to become believers in STAMP now, Peterson said.

"People are going to say, 'wow, holy cow, this is real,' " Peterson said. "This a mega site, 1,250 acres. You don't have very many of those with power and water to them in the world, so we're on the world stage right now and this is only going to make us more competitive. Genesee County is right in the middle of Buffalo and Rochester. This is going to be the place to be."

Peterson said computer models run by GRE indicate the 1366 plant, with an economic multiplier effect, will generate more than $4.3 billion in spending regionally over the next five years.

Like the governor, Hyde called the 1366 announcement a "game changer."

"This is a new day," Hyde said. "We have technology companies to the left in Buffalo, to the right in Rochester, and now they're right here right now. Where else would you rather be today? We have opportunities through investments and technology and terrific companies like 1366 Technologies that are going to be here for years and create thousands of high-paying jobs for our kids."

1366techoct72015-2.jpg

Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

1366techoct72015-3.jpg

Steve Hyde flanked by Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the Gensee County Legislature, and Mark Peterson, CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise.

1366techoct72015-4.jpg

Members of Genesee County SCOPE were set up on East Saile Drive, across the road from the County Airport, prior to the governor's arrival in Batavia, to protest the SAFE Act. There were also picketers on Bank Street Road, on R. Stephen Hawley Drive and just outside the GCC entrance.

October 7, 2015 - 5:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

cuomo1366_oct72015.jpg

Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366 Technologies, a Boston-based, MIT-bred solar energy company, presents Gov. Andrew Cuomo with a commemorative silicon wafer during today's announcement of a $700 million investment by the company in a new production plant in Genesee County.

This is the first major project to sign on with WNY Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Alabama. The CEO said his company intends to break ground on construction in the spring and be fully operational by 2017. The facility will manufacture silicon wafers for solar panels and could employ as many as 1,000 people in what Cuomo described as good, high-paying jobs.

While STAMP has benefited from state and federal grants to build infrastructure to support the kind of manufacturing facilities officials hope to attract, the only subsidies going directly to this project are standard tax breaks on the increased assessed value and sales tax abatements. The total incentive package is $97 million spread out over 10 years.

We'll have an in-depth story on today's announcement tonight or first thing in the morning.

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