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WNY STAMP

Facing challenges and skeptics, Plug Power officials say new plant expected to begin production in 2025

By Howard B. Owens
plug power WNY STAMP
Plug Power in WNY STAMP.
Photo by Howard Owens.

The company's share price hasn't risen above $5 in four months after executives informed investors that it is facing a cash flow problem, and while it has made progress on improving its cash holdings and has increased production at plants in Tennessee and Georgia, there are stock analysts downgrading Plug Power as an investment opportunity. 

Even so, Plug Power's leadership indicates the company is plowing ahead with plans to build the nation's leading fully integrated hydrogen power supply company -- a revolution in alternative energy production if Plug Power can pull it off.

One component of that plan is the completion of a hydrogen fuel production facility and electric substation at WNY STAMP, and officials with the company say the project remains on course for production to begin in the first half of 2025.

In collaboration with the New York Power Authority and National Grid, Plug Power expects to achieve its full capacity of 74 tons per day of liquid hydrogen production within that time frame.

"At this point, the majority of the work on-site to date has been laid underground to support the incoming power, drainage, and water management demands of a functional green hydrogen plant," officials said in a statement to The Batavian.

In accordance with Security and Exchange Commission Rules, Plug Power disclosed in November that a shortage of cash threatened its ability to remain a "going concern" within the following 12 months.  It suggested it could raise more cash by selling stock and that the company expected to receive a sizable loan from the Department of Energy.

Since then, Plug Power authorized B. Riley Securities to offer additional public shares of the company for sale at market rate with the goal of raising an additional $1 billion in capital.  That agreement was announced in January.  There has been no news released on how that sale has proceeded.

Also, in January, Plug Power secured a $1.6 billion loan from the Department of Energy to help it complete six liquid hydrogen facilities (including, presumably, the facility at WNY STAMP).  Plug Power is expected to receive the funds later this year. CORRECTION: Contrary to the news article cited, the loan has not been finalized, but according to a company representative, the company took another step in the due diligence process toward finalizing the loan.  The representative said that Plug Power is at Step 3 of the process in the charge on this page.

Buffalo-based Investigative Post reported on Jan. 30 that the Tonawanda Senecas opposed the loan and were actively lobbying to stop it from going forward.

The Seneca Nation is invested in solar power.

Two days ago, Seaport Res Ptn, a stock analyst firm, downgraded Plug Power from a "buy" position to "neutral," which made headlines in the business press. The Seaport researches projected lower earnings this year for Plug Power.

A New York-based company (Latham) was founded in 1999 and has yet to turn a profit.  In its most recent earnings report, in September, it reported $890 million in revenue, a record for the preceding 12 months and a 38 percent year-over-year improvement.  Over the same period, the company lost $283.5 million.

In January, Plug Power began fuel production at its new plant in Woodbine. Georgia. The plant is designed to produce 15 tons per day of liquid electrolytic hydrogen, which the company says can power 15,000 forklifts per day. 

Two days ago, the company resumed fuel production in Charleston, Tenn. That plant produces 10 tons of liquid hydrogen per day.

The two facilities coming online are expected to reduce Plug Power's cost of production and improve its move toward profitability. 

The company's specialty is green hydrogen, which is hydrogen produced without fossil fuels powering the facilities, and then that hydrogen, when used as a fuel source, results in zero carbon emissions. (More info: Forbes Magazine video about green hydrogen featuring Plug Power)

Plug Power's long-term goals are enterprising -- to be the market leader in green hydrogen. It is building a "vertically integrated" business model, which means it can provide customers with hydrogen services in a variety of ways.  For an idea of vertical integration, think of Apple. From Apple, you can get an iPhone, iPad, computer, or even earbuds that all work together seamlessly.

Plug Power aims to provide customers with fuel cells, electrolyzers (splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen), to liquid hydrogen fuel. They even provide companies like Walmart and Amazon with hydrogen-powered forklifts.  Plug Power wants to provide distribution, delivery, and services and foresees a future for hydrogen that includes uses such as long-haul trucking.

Companies and consumers looking to hydrogen as a green-energy alternative to fossil fuels face many challenges, and Plug Power is attempting to provide solutions to those challenges. The nation currently provides little in the way of hydrogen production and infrastructure, according to industry analysts.  

Plug Power's challenges include competition from other fuel sources, including natural gas, solar, and wind, as well as the steep price of building an entirely new vertically integrated infrastructure that can meet global demand.

In an interview with a green energy podcast, Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh said hydrogen power is under attack from industry leaders who believe electricity is the only solution to carbon-driven climate change.

"It's folks who really don't want hydrogen to be part of the solution, and I would contend they really don't understand," Marsh said. "I would like them to explain to me how you clean up long-haul trucking. I'd like them to explain how you do the last mile for 30 percent of the applications. I like them to explain how you do a fertilizer. I like them to explain how you do steel, which represents six or seven percent of the world's carbon footprint -- electricity solves none of that, and it's rather frustrating that if you're really thinking about how, from a system point of view, you clean up greenhouse gas. It's not really possible with their solutions."

He said solving climate change will take all of the green energy alternatives, even including nuclear power.

Plug Power's executives have set ambitious goals -- producing 2,000 tons of hydrogen daily by 2030. At that rate, the company hopes to generate $20 billion in annual revenue at that point with a profit margin of at least 30 percent.  

According to  Marsh, one ton of green hydrogen is the fuel equivalent of 2,000 gallons of gasoline. 

The company selected WNY STAMP for the construction of a liquid hydrogen plant in February 2021.  The plant will cost more than $290 million to complete. 

Empire State Development is scheduled to pay up to $2 million in Excelsior Tax Credits in exchange for the creation of 68 jobs at the plant, or about $2,941 per job per year over 10 years. Plug Power is not eligible to receive the tax credits until the jobs are filled. The average starting salary is expected to be approximately $70,000 plus benefits.

As part of the project, Plug Power agreed to invest $55 million in a 450-megawatt electrical substation that will make electricity available to other WNY STAMP tenants.

The company received $118.2 million in sales and property tax exemptions from the Genesee County Economic Development Center. Over the 20-year life of the property tax extensions, Plug Power will make payments in lieu of taxes totaling $2.3 million annually, which will be shared by Genesee County, the Town of Alabama, and the Oakfield-Alabama School District.  Each jurisdiction will also receive an increasing amount of property tax payments each year over the life of the agreement.

The STAMP plant, based on available descriptions of the other plants operated by Plug Power, would be the company's highest capacity plant.

If Plug Power were to go out of business, there's no information available on what might become of the hydrogen fuel facility. When Pepsi/Muller closed its plant in Batavia, followed by the failure of Alpina, both plants readily found new operators in HP Hood and Upstate Milk Cooperative, respectively; while there are other hydrogen companies and other energy companies, it's unknown if any would be interested in the Plug Power facility if it became available.

For previous Plug Power coverage, click here.

plug power WNY STAMP
Photo by Howard Owens.
plug power
Photo courtesy Plug Power.
plug power WNY STAMP
Photo courtesy Plug Power.

Seneca Nation sues Wildlife Service over approval of STAMP pipeline

By Howard B. Owens

Asserting rights over the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, the Tonawanda Seneca Nation has filed a lawsuit against the federal government in U.S. District Court over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s approval of a right of way for an industrial wastewater pipeline through the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

The lawsuit asserts that the Nation has standing to sue because the refuge is historically and culturally interrelated with the Nation's ancestral territory, even though it is outside the boundaries of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation. 

The pipeline, which received approval from both the Fish and Wildlife Service and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, is intended to move wastewater from WNY STAMP in the Town of Alabama to the north. 

Orleans County, despite previous approvals within its jurisdiction, has also sued to stop the pipeline.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center, developers of STAMP, are not named in the Nation's lawsuit.

An official with GCEDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Nation is claiming that the pipeline approval violates the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.

The pipeline is not compatible, under terms of the law, with the purpose of the refuge, the suit claims.

The suit asserts that the Wildlife Service violated these laws granting approval for construction of the pipeline and seeks injunctive relief, which would mean stopping further construction of the forced main.

"Consultation with an Indian Nation must occur regarding sites with 'religious and cultural significance' that are off tribal lands, and federal regulations instruct agencies to consider that historic properties of religious and cultural significance are often located on ancestral or ceded lands," the suit claims.


NOTE: The lawsuit is 82 pages long. This story is a summary of key points of the suit. To read the full document, click here (pdf)


The Nation claims that a 19,000-acre area that includes the Refuge, the Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area, the John White Wildlife Management Area and the Tonawanda Seneca Nation Reservation Territory from the Tonawanda Iroquois Oak Orchard Wetlands Complex, an area the nation is claiming is important to the Senecas for cultural and historic purposes.

"This relatively undeveloped corridor protects the culturally significant plants, animals, land, and water resources that are essential to Tonawanda Seneca traditional cultural practices and beliefs," the suit states.

The suit asserts the Nation wasn't afforded its right, under Federal law, to participate in the pipeline approval process.

"The Nation retains the right to practice its culture, religion and traditional lifeways within its ancestral Territory, both inside and outside its Reservation boundaries," the suit states, adding, "Cultural resources and historic properties of importance to the Nation are located on the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, based on traditional cultural knowledge of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation and as confirmed by the Fish & Wildlife Service’s 1992 survey of the entire Refuge."

The Nation will be harmed if construction of the pipeline is allowed to continue, according to the suit.

"Construction and operation of the industrial wastewater and treated sewage pipeline through the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge will harm Nation citizens and their enjoyment of the Refuge, as well as the Nation’s cultural resources, which include both historical and archaeological resources and wildlife, plant, and water resources in their ancestral territory in Western New York."

The suit claims the wastewater treatment facility that will be connected to the pipeline will lead to noise, traffic, odors, vibrations, light, air, and water pollution, and that it will "negatively affect the Nation’s lands, waters, environment, cultural resources, and places of religious and cultural significance."

The suit claims that the Nation previously communicated its rights under the law to GCEDC in a letter in 2016:

The Nation’s sovereign right to its territory, including the natural resources of the territory, is protected by federal treaty. The Nation has federal reserved water rights attached to our territory and the STAMP project lies entirely in Seneca aboriginal land. Waters, including streams and wetlands, span the boundary between the STAMP site and the Nation. From time immemorial, our people have used and occupied the forests, streams and wetlands of the Nation’s territory, including those directly adjacent to the STAMP site. Fish, birds, deer and other wildlife pass freely through this area and many trees and plants, including medicinal plants, grow there. All of these are an integral part of the natural world that we give thanks and acknowledge every day as Haudenosaunee with the words given to us by the Peacemaker.

Previously, and primarily in response to the Orleans County lawsuit, GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde said he is not concerned about the legal challenges facing STAMP.

From The Batavian's prior coverage:

The northern route for the sewer line, he said, is the most environmentally sound option, which is why the route was recommended by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

"If you look at the reality of what we're dealing with, in that case, that particular situation, it is DEC permitted," Hyde said. "They spent three years reviewing the plans. The DEC directed us to put the flow there because it was the best place for the care of that water body versus where we were looking as an option in Genesee County. It would have been more environmentally challenging than to do it in Genesee, and that was the reason they selected that area. There was careful study by the authority that has the responsibility for maintaining and protecting our environment. And they issued the permit. And that permit is far more stringent than what the Medina Wastewater Treatment Plant is currently operating under because they're grandfathered. 

"So when I look at the challenges that are before us and presented, it's procedural things, and with procedural things, there are always ways to find solutions. So I am not at all concerned about proceeding, because it's a long pathway to do all this stuff anyway. And at the end of it, by proceeding, we're going to enjoy greater economic vibrancy here in this region."

Previously:

Plug Power's financial filing raises concerns about stability of company

By Howard B. Owens
Photo via Genesee County Economic Development Center.
Photo via Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Uncertain about its ability to raise more investment capital, Plug Power, currently building a hydrogen fuel cell plant in WNY STAMP informed the Security and Exchange Commission in a filing on Friday that it may not have the ability to remain a "going concern" over the next 12 months.

The Latham-based company started selling public stock in 1999 and has never reported a profit, which is not unusual for early-stage start-ups. 

The company is working on several options to raise more capital, such as "various financing solutions from third parties with a particular focus on corporate level debt solutions, investment tax credit related project financings and loan guarantee programs, and/or large scale hydrogen generation infrastructure project financing."

The net losses for Plug Power in the third quarter were $0.47 per share for the third quarter, steeper than the $0.30-per-share loss expected by analysts. 

In the filing, the company emphasizes the uncertainty of the effort. 

"Those plans are not final and are subject to market and other conditions not within the Company’s control," the company stated in the filing. "As such, there can be no assurance that the Company will be successful in obtaining sufficient funding. Accordingly, management has concluded under the accounting standards that these plans do not alleviate substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.

News of the weaker-than-expected earnings report and the liquity problems drove Plug Power's stock price down from $5.93 per share to $3.53 per share.

Plug Power's chief financial officer, Paul Middleton, according to Yahoo Finance, characterized the wording of SEC filing as language required by standard accounting principles but the company remains confident about its future.

"It's a lot more conservative obviously than what we feel like," Middleton added. "But I have a $5 billion balance sheet that's unlevered. I mean, I really don't have any debt. So, we still are extremely confident about the range of parties and solutions that we're working with."

The company reported $5.4 billion in assets, including $110 million in cash with an operating loss in the third quarter of $273.9 million.

The Company’s working capital was $1.3 billion as of Sept. 30, In addition, the company has available-for-sale securities and equity securities of $388.8 million and $67.8 million, respectively.

The company stated that it "expects to generate operating losses for the foreseeable future as it continues to devote significant resources to expand its current production and manufacturing capacity, construct hydrogen plants, and fund the acquisition of additional inventory to deliver our end-products and related services."

CEO said in an earnings call that the third quarter was difficult.

"Over the past several months, there have been enormous challenges associated with the availability of hydrogen, primarily due to downed plants, including our Tennessee facility, and temporary plant outages across the entire hydrogen network," he said.

According to reports in early October, Plug Power is considered a strong contender for a portion of $7 billion in federal grants for alternative energy projects. In 2019, the federal government committed $4 million to the company.

Plug Power is building a $290 million fuel cell plant at STAMP in the Town of Alabama. The company is being (most of the funding is contingent on completion of the project) financially backed by the Genesee County Economic Development Center and New York State.

A GCEDC official did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the SEC filing.

Here is the full paragraph of a key statement in the filing:

These conditions and events raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern. In accordance with Accounting Standards Update ("ASU") No. 2014-15, “Disclosure of Uncertainties about an Entity’s Ability to Continue as a Going Concern (Subtopic 205-40),” management has evaluated whether there are conditions and events, considered in the aggregate, that raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern within one year after the date of the condensed consolidated financial statements are issued and has determined that the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern is dependent on its ability to raise additional capital. To alleviate the conditions and events that raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern, management is currently evaluating several different options to enhance the Company’s liquidity position, including the sale of securities, the incurrence of debt, or other financing alternatives. The Company’s plan includes various financing solutions from third parties with a particular focus on corporate-level debt solutions, investment tax credit-related project financings and loan guarantee programs, and/or large-scale hydrogen generation infrastructure project financing. Those plans are not final and are subject to market and other conditions not within the Company’s control. As such, there can be no assurance that the Company will be successful in obtaining sufficient funding. Accordingly, management has concluded under the accounting.

 

Undeterred by legal challenges, Hyde bullish on STAMP's future

By Howard B. Owens
WNY STAMP map

It's been 15 years since Steve Hyde first conceived of a massive, high-tech industrial park in Genesee County, and in 2023 Hyde is still focused on turning WNY STAMP into a fully realized mega site in the Town of Alabama even as the project faces its biggest legal challenges yet.

Hyde, the CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, and Jim Krencik, the agency's marketing director, spoke with The Batavian on Friday primarily to discuss a new $56 million round of funding from New York State.

The infusion of cash, Hyde shared in his unbowed enthusiasm for all things STAMP, will help take STAMP -- with two projects already being developed -- to the next level, making it more attractive to a new wave of site selectors.

"It helps get Edwards what they need to get up and running and hiring their first 300 or so employees and building their first quarter million square foot factory," Hyde said. "The future is really that 310-acre campus (see map above) that's pretty much the largest available parcel in the state, and (the funding) fully makes it plug-and-play ready. That's really where I think the benefit is. That's where the interest is. 

“You know, I couldn't have envisioned 15 years ago when this was a twinkle in my eye, and the board was helping me shape the thoughts and the strategy around it -- I just couldn't have imagined that 15 years later, we've got big sites like these out there. (We've got them) because of the chip sector, because of the Federal IRA (Inflation Reduction Act), because of the big focus right now -- all these big electric vehicle plants, battery plants, chip fabs, supply chain support for the chip fabs, solar projects,” he said. “There are less than two dozen mega sites at the same level of development as STAMP in the entire country. We're seeing deal flow right now like never before. And the more you can build the capacity, the infrastructure and really have it ready to support a company's timeline, it makes us far more competitive."

As part of STAMP's infrastructure, plans have been in place for years to build a sewer line that would run into Orleans County. After the sewer line was already approved and under construction, the Orleans County Legislature voted to file a lawsuit to halt the project, and an Orleans County judge issued a preliminary injunction to construction across the county line.

At the same time, GCEDC received notice from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to temporarily halt the construction of a sewer line through the Iroquois Wildlife Preserve.  

Hyde believes GCEDC will get past these challenges and be able to carry on with the agency's original plans, but if not, plans are being developed for alternative solutions, he said.

As for the lawsuit, Hyde said, "I'm really confident in the strength of our arguments."

The northern route for the sewer line, he said, is the most environmentally sound option, which is why the route was recommended by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

"If you look at the reality of what we're dealing with, in that case, that particular situation, it is DEC permitted," Hyde said. "They spent three years reviewing the plans. The DEC directed us to put the flow there because it was the best place for the care of that water body versus where we were looking as an option in Genesee County. It would have been more environmentally challenging than to do it in Genesee, and that was the reason they selected that area. There was careful study by the authority that has the responsibility for maintaining and protecting our environment. And they issued the permit. And that permit is far more stringent than what the Medina Wastewater Treatment Plant is currently operating under because they're grandfathered. 

"So when I look at the challenges that are before us and presented, it's procedural things, and with procedural things, there are always ways to find solutions. So I am not at all concerned about proceeding, because it's a long pathway to do all this stuff anyway. And at the end of it, by proceeding, we're going to enjoy greater economic vibrancy here in this region."

Fish and Wildlife has not completely killed off the sewer line project with its stop-work order.  GCEDC must come up with a plan to better contain and remediate potential environmental hazards during construction following two leaks in late summer and early fall of material used to help create boreholes for the pipeline.

In a previous interview with The Batavian, Mark Masse, VP of operations for GCECD, characterized the leak component as "mud." 

He (Masse) said that during the construction of the wastewater pipeline, a channel is drilled through the subsurface and then filled with what is essentially mud to hold the line's shape while the pipe is slid into place. 

"It's basically water and clay," Masse said. "The soil is so soft that it actually ended up going out through the soil. We've done the appropriate cleanups, we had an approved frac-out plan with the DEC ahead of time as part of our permitting. We are making improvements to it, and all of that cleanup and review is subject to the DEC review."

Asked to clarify what happened, Masse said, "In some cases in the refuge, the ground is so porous that when they put the mud in, it leaks out through the sides. It came up to the surface. And that's what they call a frac-out. But it is nothing more than mud. So we had vac trucks on site and cleaned it up. We have subject to DEC inspection on that and in accordance with our frac-out plan."

Calling the substance "mud" is technically accurate, but it is also an incomplete explanation. 

There was a small spill in August, followed by a 100-gallon spill on Sept. 7.

Both spills contained "Wyoming sodium bentonite clay slurry," according to Fish and Wildlife.

Sodium bentonite is a naturally occurring substance, but it isn't naturally occurring in the water of a wetland.

It is a water-absorbent mineral clay. You might find it in your kitty's cat sand. It is also used as a cleansing agent in wastewater treatment, a clumping agent in metal casting, a sealant in water ponds, and, yes, as a mud additive (generally considered environmentally friendly in such uses) in drilling.

The biggest concern of Fish and Wildlife was apparently the lack of a swift response to contain and clean up the second spill and the lack of proper notification to regulators on the day of the spill.

Fish and Wildlife stated in its notice letter, "This discharge was not contained on the project site and ultimately spread over an area of approximately 200 feet by 120 feet."

It states that appropriate measures were not taken to implement, install and maintain measures necessary to prevent discharge of pollutants from the site.

"When department staff were at the site on Sept. 8, despite that the frac-out had occurred over 24 hours earlier, the fracking muds and fluids had not been removed from the impacted freshwater wetland and adjacent area, and no representatives of the permittee were present," states the notice.

Fish and Wildlife takes the spill and the response seriously enough that it notes GCEDC faces potential fines pending further investigation.

Before pipeline construction can resume, GCEDC must develop a plan to reduce the chances of future spills and for a better remediation effort if there is an accident.

About a week ago, in an email interview with Krencik, he stated:

Drilling for the force main installation has been halted for the construction season to avoid any conflict with snow removal services.  In addition, at the request of regulatory agencies, additional geotechnical investigations have been performed to further define the soil conditions to assist our construction teams. GCEDC and the STAMP Sewer Works Corporation (SSWC) are working closely with NYSDEC and other regulatory authorities to resolve any concerns and ensure cleanup of the release of any drilling fluids from these two frac out events before resuming construction of the force main installation during permitted construction windows next season.

The $56 million awarded to STAMP by Gov. Kathy Hochul's office is the second considerable investment in STAMP by the state. In 2014, STAMP received $33 million for infrastructure and to jump-start project development.

"It's all about capacity," Hyde said. "That $33 million, especially in this era of inflation, got used for a lot of things. That money was used to build the initial infrastructure, but it was also invested in finishing up the design and permitting of the site, which of course, takes time and money. It built the baseline roadways, built some stormwater ponds, got us going on the force main ... it was really a lot of the engineering, design, the planning and permitting, baseline infrastructure. This (the new award) expands those capacities and adds some critical pieces."

Krencik added, "We've always been trying to stay ahead of where the market is. That (the $33 million) really got our foot in the door and enabled the first projects that you're looking at being implemented as phase one projects."

There is a 310-acre plot in STAMP that Hyde said is the largest such parcel available in the state, and the new round of funding will help make it more interesting to site selectors.

There is demand for the sites still available in STAMP, Krencik said.

"When you look across our sales funnel, that's what we're seeing," Krencik said. "The demand is roughly fitting in with us, and infrastructure, it takes time. That's why you do all the due diligence, all the permitting, getting all the permits for the DEC, the town of Shelby, all these pieces getting it done. It really gets ahead of these things. And with the substation being built, a lot of this stuff is being built. The state support is a pretty clear signal of what they're feeling."

The electrical substation, both Krencik and Hyde said, is a critical component of making STAMP more attractive to site selectors and more competitive with other industrial parks.

"Electrical infrastructure, that has been one of the longest lead time items we've faced, and it is coming in right now," Krencik said. "That's one of the biggest things giving companies confidence (in STAMP)."

Hyde said the substation will provide 600 megawatts of power, which is enough to power 600,000 homes and to energize high-tech companies at the scale they need.

And all of these numbers add up to more numbers, numbers in the form of good-paying jobs that won't require college degrees, Hyde noted.

"The beauty is, these jobs are kind of that next-level jobs for the community,' Hyde said. "I mean, our average income in our manufacturing jobs is in the low 60s right now, which is really good. It's good earnings for families, especially if you put a couple of those together, right? You have a good family-sustaining income. These jobs (at Plug Power and Edwards) are around 30 percent higher than that, so we're north of $80,000 on average between all the jobs being planned. That's kind of the goal, right? STAMP is about trying to elevate our economic vibrancy for our residents and our kids. The gratifying thing is that with the first two companies that have committed here, we're already seeing what the earnings and the wealth generation will be for our community."

aerial plug power wny stamp gcedc
Plug Power, one of the two new developments in STAMP, under construction.
Photo via Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Hochul announces $56 million funding for STAMP as part of larger business development program

By Press Release

Press release:

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that nearly $90 million has been awarded for six locations under the Focused Attraction of Shovel-Ready Tracts New York grant program. First announced in February 2022, the program is designed to prepare and develop sites across the state to jumpstart New York’s shovel-readiness and increase its attractiveness to large employers and high-tech manufacturing companies. The program, administered by Empire State Development, will help diversify New York State’s economy while propelling new investments for businesses, communities, and job creation.

“Through the FAST NY grant program, New York is continuing its commitment to investing in and expanding economic growth and opportunity across the state,” Governor Hochul said. “This funding will prepare shovel-ready sites that key industries like semiconductors and renewable energy are looking for and will create good jobs and grow local economies for generations to come.”

There are seven projects mentioned in the press release. Here is the section on WNY STAMP:

  • Genesee County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), Genesee County – $56 million: The Western New York Science Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) is a 1250-acre mega site, with access to significant power, water and completed pre-development. STAMP is the largest remaining site in New York State, which has already committed over $50 million to the site and where Plug Power’s green hydrogen project is currently under construction and Edwards Vacuum will be starting construction on their dry pump factory next spring. STAMP is integral to the recent EDA Regional Tech Hub designation for the Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse corridor and the state’s strategic goal of creating a “semiconductor superhighway” across Upstate. This phase of the project focuses on building the remaining infrastructure to support advanced manufacturing projects including a wastewater treatment facility and pump station, force-main components, natural gas transmission main tap and extension within the site, road construction improvements and a water transmission main. Total project cost: $62.37 million

Click here to read the full press release.

UPDATE: Statement from GCEDC:

“The FAST NY award announced by Governor Hochul today demonstrates her steadfast commitment to next-generation site development that will bring emerging business sectors in semiconductor and advanced manufacturing to our region.

“This award creates significant momentum in our efforts to design, engineer, and secure permits for infrastructure at STAMP, including current projects that have been announced to date that are anticipated to generate $1 billion of private sector investment and the creation of over 600 family-sustaining jobs.

“The FAST NY award also follows Senate Majority Leader Schumer’s recent announcement of the Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse regions being designated as a federal Tech Hub, which will only enhance continued interest at STAMP by companies in these business sectors.”

 

Complaints raised at planning board meeting about STAMP, Edwards Vacuum, addressed by officials

By Howard B. Owens
Kirk Scirto, Akron
Dr. Kirk Scirto, a family physician in Akron, spoke in opposition on Thursday night to plans for Edwards Vacuum and WNY STAMP.
Photo by Howard Owens.

CLARIFICATION: Dr. Kirk Scirto informed us on Oct. 18 that he did not say that he represented the Seneca Nation. 

It's unusual for opponents of a development project to speak at Genesee County Planning Board meetings, but two people opposed the proposed Edwards Vaccum plant at WNY STAMP and of the STAMP project itself were at Thursday's meeting.

Both spoke after a representative of Edwards made his presentation to the board and after the board voted to recommend approval of the site plan review and final subdivision.

Both speakers raised a number of environmental concerns, all of which were later refuted in interviews after the meeting by representatives of Edwards and the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Edwards is proposing a manufacturing facility that will be 236,000 square feet and sit on a 50-acre parcel.  The company is a subsidiary of Atlas Copco Group and is planning a $319 plant that will build a semiconductor dry pump, a necessary component in maintaining cleanrooms for companies that make computer chips.

Dr. Kirk Scirto, a family physician in Akron, said he represented the Seneca Nation as well as a coalition of environment groups and as many as 500 residents who oppose both the Edwards Vacuum project as well as STAMP.

"I urge you strongly to recommend disapproval of the Edwards vacuum project," Scirto said. "Know that Tonawanda Seneca Nation lies at the border, immediately at the border of STAMP. They have sued to block its development along with a separate suit to do the same by the Orleans County Legislature. And now the town of Shelby has joined us in the suit. The community impacts of this project in Genesee County are also very troubling, and it's shocking that entities in Genesee County have not yet sued. Although that should change shortly."

The other opposition speaker was Evelyn Wackett, who admitted that she didn't know anything about WNY STAMP, despite heavy coverage of the high-tech industrial park in local and regional news outlets for more than 13 years, until this past Arbor Day. Wackett, a resident of Buffalo, said she is a licensed wildlife rehabbed in Erie County.

"As I looked into it and learned about it, I kind of started getting a little bit upset," Wackett said. "It seems to me a little fishy the way things are going on with this whole project. We come out of the COVID lockdowns, and all of a sudden, Plug Power is there. And now Edwards is coming in."

Vehicle Traffic
Scirto's first objection was to traffic in and out of the Edwards site, both for the additional traffic on local roads and emissions.

"The Edwards Vacuum project would be an immense generation of traffic, according to the February 2023 SEQR that was written by the Genesee EDC," Scirto said. "We've heard some different estimations today, so I'm a bit confused about that. According to GCEDC, vehicles would be expected to enter the leave STAMP every one to two seconds all day every day. This would dramatically slow down local routes, including routes 77 and 63, which may be forced to become 30-mile-per-hour roads."

It's not clear where he got the speed-limit change data.

"Air pollution would be a second major impact, and it will be produced by diesel trucks and other vehicles, and in the chemical emissions of Edwards vacuum itself," Scirto said.

Mark Masse, senior VP for operations for GCEDC, suggested Scirto is misreading the SEQR (an environmental review document) that included the WNY STAMP infrastructure projects and both Edwards Vacuum and a parallel warehousing development that hasn't been discussed much publicly.  In the SEQR report, nearly all of the contemplated traffic, Masse indicated, could be attributed to the warehouse project.

The estimated one or two truck trips per day for STAMP, as discussed by David Ciurzynski, a local consultant representing Edwards Vacuum in the meeting, is accurate, Masse said.

"It (the SEQR) was about a 23-page resolution," Masse said. "I'm sure if somebody was unaware of what they were looking at, it would be easy for them to get confused."

Toxins and Chemicals
"If they're able to dodge the extensive lawsuits already initiated and those which will be coming shortly, then they will be allowed to emit various toxins into the air," Scirto said. "Some of these toxins can cause cancer and irritate the eyes in the respiratory tract of people. This, combined with air pollution, would cause or worsen asthma, allergies, emphysema, respiratory infections, and heart disease, especially for those living closest to the factory and its intense traffic."

He said documents on the company website reveal that Edwards Vacuum uses chemicals and fibers that are dangerous to human health.

Ciurzynski said that Scirto is using outdated documents and documents not relevant to this project to make his claims.  He said Edwards makes a wide range of products that are referenced in publically available documents, but the company is making a very specific pump in the facility. There is no foundry, and nothing dangerous will be emitted from the factory, so much of what Scirto referenced is irrelevant.

"We're not releasing any toxins," Ciurzynski said. "Our process -- we're not releasing anything. Air permits will be issued by the DEC. They're required because every building has exhaust, so we have to get permits from the DEC. They are going to be approved by the DEC to all be basically zero emissions. We're not releasing anything into the sewers other than toilets and sinks and things like that. So it's human waste, you know, from people working in our plant. Our process water, any wastewater that we have (from manufacturing), is getting toted off-site. Everything that we're doing is intentional to minimize the effect on our community and our systems. We're not, we don't want to tax any part of the community. We don't want to tax the community. So that's why we made these extra efforts to make sure that those processes are handled properly."

Fire safety
"The protection of community character would be challenged by the threat of explosions from Edwards vacuum," Scirto said. "According to their safety data sheets, they use dozens of flammable and several explosive chemicals."

Ciurzynski said, "We're building a specific pump here. It's not all of Edwards vacuums products. We don't have chemicals that are spontaneously going to combust. Everything is going on is within the regulations of the EPA and the DEC."

Wetlands
Scirto also claimed that Edwards is planning to build on top of environmentally sensitive wetlands and faulted The Batavian for previously reporting otherwise.

The Batavian's prior story was based on official government reports that could have easily been obtained by Scirto prior to the meeting.  Both representatives of Edward and GCEDC said both the planning document and The Batavian's story were accurate.  There will be no wetlands disturbed by the Edwards facility.

Wackett said, "In the article in The Batavian, I read about the wetlands and not disturbing the wetlands. Well, let me make a comment that we already disturbed the wetlands. How many spills have we had now already trying to construct this sewer pipe? 600 gallons of fracking fluid is now inside the refuge. That endangered bog turtle. That endangered short-eared owls. And all that endangered northern Harrier -- all those species depend on these wetlands. It's a migratory bird route that you guys just decided to, I don't know about you guys (meaning the planning board), but Genesee County Economic Development Center decided to just plop an industrial park right in the middle of the Tonawanda State Wildlife Management Area, the Iroquois National Wildlife Areas, protected area. I don't understand how they can just put a sewer pipeline in the middle of it."

The STAMP project is entirely outside of both protected areas.

Masse said in the hallway as soon as the meeting was over, "To clarify, there are no wetlands being impacted by this project."

Ciurzynski immediately added, "Your story was accurate. Our survey has been registered with the town and this county. To avoid this (wetlands), we didn't buy that land (containing wetlands)."

As for Wackett's claim that GCEDC that "600 gallons of fracking fluid is now inside the refuge," Masse said that statement isn't accurate.

He said during the construction of the wastewater pipeline, a channel is drilled through the subsurface and then filled with what is essentially mud to hold the line's shape while the pipe is slid into place. "

"It's basically water and clay," Masse said. "The soil is so soft that it actually ended up going out through the soil. We've done the appropriate cleanups, we had an approved frac-out plan with the DEC ahead of time as part of our permitting. We are making improvements to it, and all of that cleanup and review is subject to the DEC review."

Asked to clarify what happened, Masse said, "In some cases in the refuge, the ground is so porous that when they put the mud in, it leaks out through the sides. It came up to the surface. And that's what they call a frac-out. But it is nothing more than mud. So we had vac trucks on site and cleaned it up. We have subject to DEC inspection on that and in accordance with our frac-out plan."

He said the frac-out has been cleaned up, and while still subject to a DEC follow-up inspection, Masse indicated the event posed no threat to wildlife.

Owls
"I just need to make the comment for the short-eared owl," Wackett said. "From what I understand and what I've read, that the short-eared owl has already declined in numbers since this project has started."

Masse said GCEDC has followed all DEC guidelines and regulations regarding the short-eared owl and north Harrier. 

"Essentially," Masse said, the short-eared owl northern Harrier issue has been resolved as we've received a permit to be able to develop that property. As a part of that, we've created a grassland habitat for those birds as the offset for the impact and taking that property. And that permit was issued, I think, in June or July."

As for Wackett's claim that the owl population has already declined, Masse said there is no evidence of that, and there can't be any definitive evidence because of the migratory habit of the species.

"We've done studies over the years, and those birds are non-geo specific, which means they don't come back to the same location every year," Masse said. "So they could be here one year, they could go somewhere else for six years, they could come back here in year seven. I'm sure statewide studies are being done, but whether those are higher or lower, it's hard to tell."

Lawsuits
At the start of his talk, Scirto said the Seneca Nation had sued to stop the STAMP development.  It's unclear if that was a reference to the 2021 lawsuit filed against GCEDC that was later settled or if he believes there is a pending lawsuit. GCEDC officials are unaware of any pending lawsuit filed by the Seneca Nation.

Orleans County has filed a lawsuit in a dispute over the sewer pipeline project that runs north into Orleans County. It's not clear from the language of the suit that the aim is to "stop" STAMP, as Scirto claimed during the meeting.  The Town of Shelby recently voted to join the lawsuit, even though Shelby previously approved the pipeline.

Whatever is going on with the lawsuits, Edwards Vacuum is not concerned, Ciurzynski said.

"It doesn't concern us because we do care about the environment," Ciurzynski said. "We care about the local people, the farmers. Something people need to know is Edwards Vacuum and Atlas Copco are really conscientious and intentional about their science-based initiatives to reduce their global footprint, global carbon footprint."

Returning to the issue of emissions raised by Scirto, Ciurzynski indicated Edwards has a plant in Korea doing what the Alabama plant will do, but it is "landlocked." It can expand. The STAMP site gives Edwards room for growth, but it also means its products will no longer be shipped by air cargo to the U.S., which will cut carbon emissions.

"Unfortunately, in building, you're not gonna make everybody happy," Ciurzynski said. "We can't keep everything pristine and green. We're trying to keep more than 60 percent of the site green. We're trying to make the building as green as possible by going all-electric, not having fossil fuels.

As part of the green effort, the site will have walking paths so people can enjoy the green space.

Masse said GCEDC has been complying with environmental regulations throughout the planning and development process.

"We've been working with the DEC, the Army Corps of Engineers, and our permit through the Wildlife Refuge took five years to obtain. There were two public meetings, and public hearings were held, and with that, there was a NEPA process done. We followed all the appropriate regulatory steps through this process to date. We are as transparent, and I think you would admit that we are as transparent and organization as you're going to find. We've done everything out in the open. We've done everything in the public. We've done every approval we need to do, and we continue to, and I don't think people realize how much the regulatory agencies have oversight over all construction, over all of the development. You talk stormwater management to the DEC. You talk about construction safety to the Town of Alabama. Operational-wise, it's the town of Alabama, it's the DEC. So there are enough regulatory agencies where I don't think a company would be able to do some of the things that had been said here today without being found immediately, without having somebody know what's going on. So I don't know if they just don't understand how development works. But the amount of oversight and regulatory oversight that happens in New York State is a lot."

The Seneca Nation
Both Ciurzynski and Masse said Edwards and STAMP want to be good neighbors to the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

"We do care about Native Americans," Ciurzynski said. "We want them to be part of our facility. We want them to work with us. We want them to work at our facility. We want to provide livelihoods so that they can have generational jobs that they don't have to drive miles to get to. It's right next door. You can have a good job and work with wonderful people in a LEAD-certified building that's as green as possible."

Masse said GCEDC has always been open to working with tribal leaders.

"We've been outreaching with the Nation diligently for at least the last seven years, if not the last 13," Masse said. "They just choose not to participate, which is their right."

Public Awareness
As to the implication raised by Wackett that people have been kept in the dark, Masse noted that GCEDC has hosted a number of well-publicized public meetings and public hearings.  There was ample opportunity 13 years ago to raise the objections being raised now.

"There are 60,000 people in Genesee County, and we had two people show up who opposed this and said they said they had 500," Masse said. "In the grand scheme of things, you know, I understand people want to be heard. But the majority of the people here, like the Town of Alabama, spoke 13 years ago. And quite honestly, the time to express your concerns about the project would have been 13 years ago when we were going through the EIS process. I think we held 25 to 30 public meetings. So you know, that process was a public process. And there are a lot of concerns voiced, but at the end of the day, the community overwhelmingly was in favor of it."

David Ciurzynski
David Ciurzynski, a local consultant representing Edwards Vacuum, during his presentation on Thursday to the Genesee County Planning Board.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Evelyn Wackett
Evelyn Wackett, a wildlife rehabber from Erie County, spoked against STAMP at Thursday's Planning Board meeting.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Shelby seeks to join Orleans lawsuit against STAMP sewer discharge into Oak Orchard

By Tom Rivers
stamp sewer
A sewer main is shown along Route 63 in the Town of Alabama in the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday. The Town of Shelby wants to join an Orleans County lawsuit against the sewer construction in Orleans County and the discharge of treated wastewater into Oak Orchard Creek.  
Photo by Tom Rivers

The Town Board, in a 4-1 vote this evening, decided it wants to join an Orleans County lawsuit that seeks to stop construction of a sewer main along Route 63 from the STAMP manufacturing site in Alabama to the Oak Orchard Creek in Shelby.

Orleans County on Sept. 11, filed suit in State Supreme Court to stop a sewer line from coming into the Town of Shelby and depositing up to 6 million gallons of what Orleans says is “contaminated” water into the Oak Orchard Creek.

The county alleges that the Genesee County Economic Development Center formed a “sham corporation” in STAMP Sewer Works to make the 9.5-mile-long sewer main happen.

Orleans officials worry the sewer discharge could impair the water quality of the creek, cause flooding and hurt economic development opportunities at the Medina Business Park.

Scott Wengewicz, Shelby town supervisor, said he agrees with the concerns voiced by the county in opposing STAMP.

Shelby will spell out its reasons for objecting to the project when it files a notice to intervene with State Supreme Court Justice Sanford Church. The judge has set a court date for Oct. 23 at the County Courthouse in Albion for the initial hearing in the Orleans lawsuit. He also has issued the preliminary injunction to not allow any sewer main construction in Orleans County until the arguments are presented in court.

Kathy Bennett, the Shelby attorney, said the town has “a right to have at seat at the table” in court and any other discussions about the project.

“We are clearly an interested party,” she said after this evening’s Town Board meeting.

Ed Zelazny, a town councilman, cast the lone vote against seeking to join the lawsuit. Zelazny said the Town Board previously voted in support of the STAMP Sewer Works. That was in a 5-0 vote on Oct. 13, 2020, when Shelby provided its consent to the forming of STAMP Sewer Works.

Zelazny said the Town Board should have demanded money to ease town taxes as part of the vote, and the board members then should have stated their concerns about the impact on the Oak Orchard.

Zelazny said he doesn’t want to see the town commit to spending taxpayer dollars on another lawsuit.

Bennett, the town attorney, said the vote from the Town Board about three years ago was only for the formation of STAMP Sewer Works and didn’t give Shelby’s blessing to discharge wastewater from STAMP into the Oak Orchard.

STAMP would send up to 6 million gallons a day at full capacity. The first two tenants at STAMP – Plug Power and Edwards Vacuum – would have a daily discharge of 50,000 gallons of treated wastewater, GCEDC said.

Story courtesy Orleans Hub

Orleans County accuses Genesee County of not cooperating on STAMP wastewater plans

By Press Release

Press release:

Last night, the Orleans County Legislature voted unanimously for a resolution to preserve the Oak Orchard River and local tributaries in Orleans County.  The Legislature continues to push back against Genesee County’s Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park’s (STAMP) plan to discharge to six million gallons of wastewater a day from STAMP into Oak Orchard River by way of the Town of Shelby.  

“Tonight’s resolution and the lawsuit we filed last week to prevent this wastewater discharge are not actions we take lightly, as we have a long record of partnering with our friends in Genesee County,” said Lynne Johnson, Chairman of the Orleans County Legislature.  “But partnerships are built upon being able to have conversations on difficult topics like wastewater and then cooperating on a solution that works for everyone.   

“Yet, throughout this process, Genesee County and their economic development agency have not engaged with Orleans County leadership, developed a plan in the backroom to dump wastewater in Orleans County without our input and then, when questioned, just decided to attempt to steamroll us, rather than work together.  I cannot express enough the level of disappointment we feel in their actions.”  

Johnson said the resolution clearly states the concerns Orleans County has regarding the wastewater discharge, including impacts on tourism, sport fishing, flooding, property damage, declining real estate values and more.  Johnson believes there are other avenues Genesee should be exploring for managing wastewater.  

“I have said all along and want to repeat it again, that our legislators are in support of STAMP and the economic development projects that will lead to investment and jobs for our entire region,” said Johnson.  “But that economic growth cannot come at the expense of Orleans County’s natural resources.   

Johnson also acknowledged the efforts of New York State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, who represents both counties in the State Legislature and has been attempting to mediate a solution.  

“We appreciate that Assemblyman Hawley is taking an active role in bringing all parties together,” said Johnson.  “We must work together on an alternative.” 

Judge issues preliminary injunction, halting STAMP sewer line in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers
sewer pipeline stamp
Traffic was limited to one-way on Route 63 on Aug. 30 while contractors installed a new sewer pipe in the Town of Alabama.
Photo by Tom Rivers.

A State Supreme Court has issued a preliminary injunction and temporarily won’t be allowing a sewer line to be constructed in Orleans County, running from the STAMP manufacturing site about 10 miles north to Oak Orchard Creek.

Contractors started installing the 20-inch sewer main last month and are headed north along 63. They haven’t reached Orleans County yet.

Judge Sanford Church on Monday issued the preliminary injunction and set a court date for Oct. 23 at the County Courthouse in Albion.

Orleans County has filed a lawsuit against Genesee County Industrial Development Agency of Batavia, Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation of Batavia, Stamp Sewer Works, Inc. of Batavia, G. Devincentis & Son Construction Co., Inc. of Binghamton, Clark Patterson Lee of Rochester, and Highlander Construction of Memphis, NY.

Orleans contends the GCEDC didn’t properly form STAMP Sewer Works for the project and doesn’t have a right to seek construction easements in Orleans, which is outside Genesee County. Genesee never asked for Orleans permission to undertake the project, Orleans says in the suit.

Orleans economic development officials are also concerned the discharge of treated water from STAMP, at up to 6 million gallons a day at full capacity, could limit economic development efforts in Medina by overtaxing the creek.

GCEDC notes engineering reports say there would be another 10 million gallons of daily capacity for the creek from the Medina sewer plant if STAMP were at full capacity. The first two tenants at STAMP, Plug Power and Edwards Vacuum, would have a daily discharge of 50,000 gallons of treated wastewater GCEDC said.

GCEDC says it secured all required permits and approvals for construction and use of the force main for the sewer, including a right-of-way permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to cross the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and a discharge permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge has temporarily paused drilling as part of the construction after sinkholes were observed in the right of way of the refuge.

There also are fluids associated with subsurface drilling that appeared on the refuge surface outside the perimeter of the right of way, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement on Tuesday.

Craig Leslie, GCEDC attorney, said in a Sept. 11 court filing, asked the judge not to approve a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order.

“Orleans County’s allegations are wholly inconsistent with the facts and the law and smack of a frivolous and politicized attack on the STAMP project,” wrote Leslie, an attorney with Phillips Lytle LLP.

Orleans County, represented by attorney Jennifer Persico of Lippes Mathias LLP, contends the Genesee agencies and others named and in the lawsuit “have been engaged in a conspiracy not only to violate General Municipal and Transportation Corporations Law but also to defraud the residents of Orleans County and citizens of New York State in general by misusing millions of taxpayer dollars to fund an unauthorized project all while acting outside of their respective authority,” according to the Orleans court filing on Sept. 11, seeking the preliminary injunction.

Photo and story courtesy OrleansHub. Tom Rivers is editor of OrleansHub.

GCEDC board chair releases open letter to community in response to Orleans County lawsuit

By Howard B. Owens

See also: Orleans County files suit over WNY STAMP sewer line

Press release:

A number of concerns have been raised about the impacts of the construction of an underground pipeline that would discharge treated water from businesses at STAMP into Oak Orchard Creek.

These are concerns that we have taken very seriously and addressed.  Multiple engineering studies and peer engineering and environmental regulatory reviews have been conducted to assess potential impacts of discharging this treated water into the Creek.  This process is similar to how municipalities treat water before it is discharged into local waterways.

While existing businesses at STAMP, including Plug Power and Edwards, would discharge approximately 50,000 gallons per day of treated water into Oak Orchard Creek, the studies and peer reviews assessed the impacts of the potential for a maximum of 6 million gallons per day as if STAMP was at full build-out.

The various studies and peer reviews conducted by engineering professionals took that maximum level into account and determined that the increased flow from the STAMP discharge will not have a noticeable impact on the 100-year flood elevations downstream, nor will it impact stream velocity, water levels, water quality impairments and/or area-wide erosion.

Concerns also have been raised about potentially impacting the capacity at water treatment facilities in neighboring communities, which could negatively impact bringing new businesses and/or assist business expansion because of a lack of capacity.

Again, citing these same studies and peer reviews for the potential for a maximum of 6 million gallons per day if STAMP was at full build-out, it was determined that:

  • The increase in surface water elevations in Oak Orchard Creek during a 10-year storm event would be approximately 1/8” to 1/4”, with STAMP discharging at the maximum expected level of 6 MGD. 
  • Given the above, the Medina water treatment plant, which currently operates with a maximum permitted level of treating 4.5 MGD, could expand by another 10 MGD in order to accommodate new capacity for business growth and/or expansion without impact from STAMP’s maximum expected 6 MGD discharge.  
  • An adjoining dam to Oak Orchard Creek could absorb the 6 MGD into its storage capacity without modification to the dam’s operations.  

We want to support our partners in economic development to assist any we can to enhance investment in the GLOW region.  We would not advocate for something that would be detrimental to our partners, as we all are working collaboratively to bring prosperity to our region.

Finally, we want to thank the approximately 38 landowners who agreed to temporary and permanent easements on their properties to allow the underground pipeline to be constructed.  We appreciate their understanding of the temporary and permanent need to use their properties for this critically important regional economic development initiative.

Please visit www.informationaboutstamp.com to review the various engineering studies and peer-reviewed documents related to this project.

Sincerely,

Peter Zeliff
Chairman
Genesee County Economic Development Center

Orleans County files suit over WNY STAMP sewer line

By Tom Rivers
stamp sewer line
The new sewer line is shown on Aug. 12 on Route 63 in the Town of Alabama, Genesee County. Orleans County officials are seeking to stop the construction from going to the STAMP site about 10 miles north to the Oak Orchard Creek.
Photo by Tom Rivers/OrleansHub

Story courtesy OrleansHub.com

Orleans County is suing its neighbor to try to stop a sewer line from coming into the Town of Shelby and depositing up to 6 million gallons of what Orleans says is “contaminated” water into the Oak Orchard Creek.

The county on Monday filed an Article 78 complaint in State Supreme Court, seeking to halt placement of a sewer line from the STAMP site to the Oak Orchard Creek, a 9.5-mile long pipe along Route 63 that has been under construction since Aug. 3.

Orleans is asking for a temporary restraining order to stop construction so the arguments can be heard in court without the pipeline getting built in Orleans County.


See also: GCEDC board chair releases open letter to community in response to Orleans County lawsuit


The court action from Orleans County is called a “frivolous and politicized attack” in a court response from Craig A. Leslie, attorney for GCEDC and others named in the suit.

Orleans County officials contend the county never gave its permission for the project, and the Genesee County Economic Development Center formed a “sham corporation” – STAMP Sewer Works – to make the project happen.

The STAMP site is 1,250 acres and is considered a top priority for economic development officials in the region. It is targeted for advanced manufacturing – semiconductors and renewables manufacturing.

Plug Power is currently building a $290 million facility at STAMP for a green hydrogen production facility that includes an electric substation. The new facility will produce 45 metric tons of green liquid hydrogen daily when fully operational, making it the largest green hydrogen production facility in North America. Plug will employ 60 people.

Another company, Edwards Vacuum, announced last November it would build a $319 million “factory of the future” at STAMP in a project serving the semiconductor industry. Edwards plans to employ 600 high-skill professionals at the semiconductor dry pump manufacturing facility.

The commitments from the two companies follow a 20-year effort to develop STAMP in a rural area of Genesee County, only a few miles south of the Orleans County border. STAMP has been pushed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Gov. Kathy Hochul and her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo.

But Orleans County officials say the Genesee County Economic Development Center has been driving the contracts for the project, including engineering and construction – and that is illegal because an economic development agency can’t fund and push projects outside its own county unless it has permission from the other municipalities, Jennifer Persico, an attorney representing Orleans County, wrote in the complaint filed in State Supreme Court in Orleans County.

orleans attorney
Jennifer Persico, an attorney with Lippes Mathias LLP, speaks during an eminent domain public hearing on July 27. She said at the hearing that the Genesee County Economic Development Center illegally created STAMP Sewer Works as “a sham corporation” to do the eminent domain proceedings against two Orleans County property owners.
Photo by Tom Rivers/OreleansHub

In the court filing, she said Orleans “strenuously objects” to the sewer project.

Genesee County EDC is illegally funding a project outside its jurisdiction, Orleans contends in its complaint. The EDC paid for easements to allow for temporary construction, including all but two in Shelby. Orleans County secured two easements in Shelby with the stipulation no sewer line can be constructed.

Orleans officials contend the sewer discharge could limit the county’s efforts to develop its own business park in Medina, and the water may cause flooding and hurt the county’s $30 million annual fishing industry at the Oak Orchard, which is world renowned for salmon and trout fishing.

GCEDC, on March 25, 2021, awarded a $9,777,000 contract to G. DeVincentis & Son Construction Company for the 20-inch sewer main, which goes from the northern refuge boundary to the north of Shelby Center. GCEDC accepted a low bid from Highlander for construction at $5,193,445 and approved a $900,000 contract and a $560,000 contract to Clark Patterson Lee for engineering services for the sewer project. GCEDC approved the bids without the consent of Orleans County.

The request for bids shows GCEDC contemplated construction in Orleans County without the consent of Orleans, Persico said.

GCEDC also has purchased 18 temporary easements in Orleans County to allow for construction of the sewer line, without consent of Orleans, a violation of general municipal law, according to the complaint.

Orleans, in the complaint, also faults Genesee County EDC for improperly forming STAMP Sewer Works, for illegally funding and noticing the eminent domain hearing at the Alabama fire hall on July 27.

Orleans seeks to have the Supreme Court annul the easements. The county also seeks to stop the GCEDC-backed project in Orleans without the county support. That includes efforts from the GCEDC-affiliated Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation and STAMP Sewer Works.

Leslie, attorney for GCEDC, asked the judge, Frank Caruso, not to approve a temporary restraining order on the project. Leslie said the sewer line construction has received all of the needed environmental and right-of-way permits from the state Department of Transportation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to cross the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

Leslie said Orleans County shouldn’t be granted a temporary restraining order because the project is still weeks and even months from getting into Orleans. Persico wrote in her court filing the project was likely a matter of hours or days until it started in Orleans. The contractor is currently installing the sewer line in the refuge in Genesee County, Leslie wrote.

Orleans is beyond its authority and is seeking to stop all sewer line construction when the project is currently solely in Genesee County.

Leslie, the GCEDC attorney, said the claim that GCEDC is using its own money is false because the funding is part of $33 million awarded for STAMP development by Empire State Development, a state entity “which fully supports the STAMP project,” Leslie wrote.

He responded that the Town of Shelby gave its consent to the sewer line project, and so did the Orleans County Department of Health.

He asked the judge to deny the Orleans request for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order.

“Orleans County will sustain no injury by the continued construction of the Force Main, particularly in Genesee County, while this matter is appropriately determined by this Court,” Leslie wrote to Judge Caruso. “Meanwhile, STAMP Sewer will be irreparably harmed if the overbroad and unreasonable order requested by Orleans County is granted.”

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Batavian sought additional comment from GCEDC, and a spokesman referred us to a website that has been set up to address the issues raised by the lawsuit

Plug Power awarded low-cost Niagara hydropower allocation by NY Power Authority

By Press Release

Press release:

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the New York Power Authority Board of Trustees approved economic development awards to three firms that will spur more than $508 million in capital investments and create 205 jobs. 

Included among the approved items are low-cost hydropower allocations to Plug Power, a New York-headquartered hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer, for further development of its Genesee County site. 

The NYPA board also approved low-cost hydropower allocations to facilitate an expansion in Niagara Falls for EnerPlate, an electroplating service provider for grid-scale battery systems, and CWT, a hatching eggs producer for the global poultry industry, expanding in Watertown. 

"New York's growing clean energy infrastructure and local economic development go hand in hand," Governor Hochul said. "The items approved today by the NYPA Board of Trustees will create good-paying jobs and spark hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in communities in Western and Northern New York." 

At today's meeting, the NYPA board approved a 50-megawatt (MW) low-cost Niagara hydropower allocation to Plug Power, located at the Genesee County's Science, Technology & Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP), to support the firm's $387 million green hydrogen fuel production expansion project that will lead to the creation of 19 additional jobs at the location. The firm is underway with its construction of the $290 million green hydrogen fuel production facility at the site that was announced by Governor Hochul in 2021. The expansion project will increase the capacity of the planned hydrogen production from an estimated 45 tons per day to 74 tons per day. The NYPA board also approved an additional 62 MW of High Load Factor power that NYPA will procure for Plug Power on the energy market.

The Power Authority supports Plug Power at three other locations: Slingerlands, which completed construction in January, Latham, and West Henrietta. In total, NYPA supports Plug Power with 272 MW of low-cost power, supporting more than 2,100 jobs throughout the state.

GCEDC board approves financial agreements with Edwards Vacuum at STAMP

By Press Release

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board approved financial agreements to support Edwards Vacuum, part of the Atlas Copco Group, for the first phase of the company’s $209 million semiconductor dry pump manufacturing facility at the Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the town of Alabama, NY at its February 2, 2023 meeting. 

Edwards Vacuum’s “factory of the future” will serve the semiconductor industry and advanced manufacturing sectors and create approximately 343 new high-paying jobs. The facility is projected to generate more than $13.4 million in future revenues to the Town of Alabama, Genesee County, Oakfield-Alabama School District, and the Alabama Fire Department over 20 years.

Atlas Copco USA Holdings Inc. & Subsidiaries (Edwards Vacuum) has requested sales tax exemptions of approximately $4.34 million and a 20-year property tax abatement of approximately $12.85 million. The project is estimated to generate $644 million in payroll and projected future municipal revenues, and a $39 benefit to the local economy for every $1 of public investment.

Hawley applauds major semiconductor investment by Edwards Vacuum in Genesee County

By Press Release

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, C - Batavia) today praised the recent announcement that Edwards Vacuum, a British-based world leader in vacuum and abatement equipment in the semiconductor industry and part of the Atlas Copco Group, has chosen the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP)  in 139th A.D. as the location for its new $319 million, U.S. dry pump manufacturing facility. The specific technology that will be produced at the new facility is an integral part of the sensitive manufacturing process.

This highly-protected technology and process will make the new facility one of a few globally that will have the ability to produce this product. Hawley noted that this serious investment will attract some of the best minds and leaders in the semiconductor field across the world to relocate and grow in Western New York.

“New York continues to be a serious global player in the semiconductor world, and for our community to be home to this future facility reinforces the meaningful commitment we all have to bring jobs to our area and grow our economy,” said Hawley. “The trickle-down positive impact this will have on the district, for economic growth, our schools and future success, cannot be underscored. Creating 600 jobs is significant and I could not be prouder to have those jobs located in our region.”

With the recent global supply chain issues that have caused shortages in product and increases in prices for everything from cars to cell phones, Hawley believes this will better position New Yorkers and Americans across the country to economically benefit from this investment.

“This is welcome news not only for the significant local economic impact, but this will help everyday New Yorkers and Americans to better afford the wide array of consumer goods tied to the semiconductor technology. It’s an extremely exciting day for our region and I look forward to future growth,” concluded Hawley.

There's still a lot of work to do before construction starts on new Edwards Vacuum plant at STAMP

By Howard B. Owens

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The commitment is in place but there is still a lot of work to be done before construction can begin on the new manufacturing facility Edwards Vacuum plans to build at WNY STAMP.

Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, said the proposed project, once built out, with 600 jobs, will be the largest new manufacturing plant in Genesee County history.

"That's about a 20 percent increase in our manufacturing employment," Hyde said.

But before the first person can be hired, there are permits to be obtained, an environmental review process to complete, site plans to review, and an incentive package with GCEDC to negotiate.

The permitting process will make the coming months a bit busier for officials in the Town of Alabama.

Typically, job-creation projects receive three primary tax breaks. The first is a PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes. The PILOT forgives a portion of property taxes (the portion derived from an increase in assessed value) in exchange for payments to local governments.  The second is a sales tax abatement on construction materials. And the third is a mortgage tax abatement. 

GCEDC has yet to reach an agreement with Edwards on those incentives, which will require a public hearing and board approval once the details are worked out.

"All of that comes down to a fundamental thing -- is it a competitive world or not?" Hyde said. "And it's a very competitive world, especially for projects in the semiconductor industry. So you know, those are all important pieces that are negotiated."

Edwards doesn't hold all the cards in any negotiation, however.  In prior interviews, both Hyde and Sen. Charles Schumer pointed out that STAMP is located along a growing semiconductor corridor between Fishkill and Ohio, and the Micron Technologies plant announced last month for the Syracuse area is a significant large potential customer for Edwards.  And a source in Gov. Kathy Hochul's office pointed out in an email today Wolfspeed and Global Foundries, among others along the I-90 corridor, are existing or potential customers for Edwards.

STAMP also benefits from a renewable energy source, Niagara Falls.

Edwards Vacuum also stands to benefit from $20 million in incentives from the State of New York.  Most of that money comes in the form of Excelsior Jobs Tax Credits.  The company only receives the tax credits if they make the qualifying hires.

There is also a workforce development grant that Edwards can earn as it builds out its staff.

The increase in new plant development across the nation is being driven largely by the CHIPS and Science Act, a bill authored by Schumer, that provides $59 billion in grants along with tax credits for companies building out the nation's capacity for producing computer chips.

Edwards is moving forward with its plans even though the company cannot yet apply for CHIPS assistance.

"(Edwards) has plans to put in their own version of a CHIPS application," Hyde said. "But no one has an official commitment yet because the window isn't even open to put the applications in. The Department of Commerce says, I think, it's February when they'll start taking applications. And I know these guys plan on putting in a very thoughtful application as well."

If all goes to plan -- and Hyde said the GCEDC staff is committed to getting through the process smoothly -- contractors for Edwards could put the first shovel into the ground in the spring.

Edwards has committed to an 80-acre parcel in the northeast quadrant of STAMP, all east of Crosby Road.

One additional job for GCEDC is building out the infrastructure, such as sewer and water, for the site.  Hyde said GCEDC will apply for a new state grant program to help pay for building infrastructure.

Edwards is planning to invest $319 million to build a manufacturing plant in two phases. The first phase will be 255,000 square feet, with 240,000 square feet dedicated to manufacturing. The remaining floor space will be used for a warehouse and administration.  The second phase will be 130,000 square feet.  

The company hopes to complete the first phase by the fourth quarter of 2024 and in that first phase, will employ from 300 to 350 people.  The second phase will round out the anticipated 600 new hires sometime in 2026.

"They're not letting any grass grow under their feet on this project," Hyde said.

Photo: File photo.

Schumer: Edwards Vacuum coming to STAMP will entice more semiconductor companies to locate here

By Howard B. Owens

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This morning's announcement that Edwards Vacuum is going to build a $319 million dry-pump manufacturing facility at WNY STAMP is a good indication, said Sen. Charles Schumer, that there are more high-tech companies who will choose to locate new plants at the park.

"We had a good chance before landing Edwards and now those chances are even better," Schumer told The Batavian during an exclusive interview.

Edwards is a major player in the semiconductor industry, Schumer said, and the decision by the company's CEO, Geert Follens, helps validate STAMP as a viable option for other companies in the semiconductor supply chain as well as a semiconductor fabricator.

The British-based company makes the vacuums that help keep chip manufacturing clean rooms clean.

"Once you land a serious company like this, other semiconductor companies are going to take notice," Schumer said.

Schumer is the author of the CHIPs and Science Act, which provides $52 billion in manufacturing grants and establishes a 25 percent investment tax credit for increasing semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. 

That bill, Schumer said, was a significant factor in the decision by Micron Technologies to build a major chip manufacturing plant near Syracuse and Micron's selection of New York helped STAMP beat out a competing site in another nearby state for the Edwards facility, Schumer said. 

Phase One of Edwards Vacuum’s 240,000 square-foot campus includes manufacturing, warehouse and administration.  The company is expected to employ 600 people and the state and federal financial incentives tied to the deal require Edwards to meet that employment goal.

Edwards will also negotiate a PILOT agreement (a reduction in property taxes on the increased value of the property in exchange for payments to local governments), along with sales tax, and mortgage tax abatements with GCEDC.

In an interview with The Batavian yesterday, GCEDC Steve Hyde said there was a major announcement coming soon (which came a lot sooner than he suggested) about STAMP, and he also said there are about 20 companies with some interest in STAMP and another five or six with serious interest.

Schumer agreed with that assessment.

"There is a lot of interest in STAMP," said Schumer, a big baseball fan. "We have to land them but we're on third base and getting ready to score."

File photo of Sen. Charles Schumer at WNY STAMP in August 2020 calling for passage of the CHIPS Act. Photo by Howard Owens.

Semiconductor supply-chain business to build $319 million facility at STAMP

By Press Release

Press release:

Governor Hochul and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer today announced that Edwards Vacuum, a British-based world leader in vacuum and abatement equipment in the semiconductor industry and part of the Atlas Copco Group, has chosen the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP), located in Genesee County, as the location for their new $319 million, U.S. dry pump manufacturing facility. The dry pump technology that will be produced at the new facility is a vital component to controlling the highly sensitive environment of semiconductor manufacturing processes. Phase One of Edwards Vacuum’s 240,000 square-foot campus include manufacturing, warehouse and administration. This new commitment from a global leader in the semiconductor manufacturing supply chain to invest in New York State builds on the announcement that Micron is investing an unprecedented $100 billion in Central New York.   

“This major investment from Edwards Vacuum builds on our momentum to secure New York as a leader in semiconductor manufacturing,” Governor Hochul said. “On the heels of Micron’s $100 billion commitment to Central New York, as well as New York’s Green CHIPS legislation and the federal CHIPS and Science Act, we are better positioned than ever to make New York a global hub for advanced manufacturing and attract the jobs of the future. I am thrilled to welcome Edwards Vacuum to Genesee County and look forward to working with them, as well as our local, state, and federal partners, as they make New York their home.”

The CHIPS And Science Act delivers for Upstate New York again,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer.  “I am thrilled to announce Edwards Vacuum, a major player in semiconductor supply chain, will soon power Genesee County with an over $300 million plant and 600 good-paying jobs!  From Micron’s major investment in Central NY and Wolfspeed’s new fab in Marcy, to onsemi soon beginning in the Hudson Valley and GlobalFoundries building a new fab in the Capital Region, and now Edward’s supercharging our semiconductor supply chain at Western New York’s STAMP site, Upstate is becoming the global hub for the chip industry. I told Edwards Vacuum’s top brass last month there was no better site than STAMP to locate a new plant and I’m glad they heeded my call.  With my CHIPS and Science Act as the lighting rod, we are now seeing energy flow into Upstate’s manufacturing sector like never before, and this investment will further cement that the future of microchips will be built with American-made products, crafted by New York workers.”

Kate Wilson, President of Edwards’ Semiconductor business, said, “I am delighted that we are announcing this new facility in the state of New York. Against a backdrop of growing demand, clearly showing a greater need for investment in manufacturing capabilities that are located close to our customers, we continue to commit significant investment in our operational footprint. This is critical to ensure we retain our position as the vacuum and abatement partner of choice to the global semiconductor industry.”  

Edwards Vacuum will provide internal training and education, allowing every employee to explore and advance their career opportunities. Additionally, Edwards is committed to recruiting entry-level employees from disadvantaged communities and partnering with existing community-based recruitment and training programs, to provide both soft skills and technical skills that will provide employment opportunities that have not been available in those communities previously. 

STAMP is a 1,250-acre mega site at the forefront of green manufacturing growth in New York. Developed to provide high-capacity, low-cost renewable electricity in a strategic location in the Buffalo-Rochester Tech Corridor, STAMP has attracted over $500 million of investment  by innovative companies. With over 500 available buildable acres on-site, 1.1 million people within 30 miles, and 30,000 annually enrolled engineering students at nearby colleges and universities, STAMP is positioned to accelerate New York’s growing semiconductor manufacturing, advanced manufacturing, and renewables manufacturing industries. 

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Attracting supply chain partners in the semiconductor industry is key building a stronger ecosystem in New York State. Edwards Vacuum’s choice of STAMP for its new facility further cements New York State as a leader in the semiconductor industry.” 

New York Power Authority Interim President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, “Edwards Vacuum’s STAMP investment is a testament to New York’s emergence as a global leader in semiconductor manufacturing. Securing reliable supply chain partners is critical to the semiconductor industry, and projects like this showcase the unique attributes of New York that will help the industry grow here.” 

As part of the agreement with Edwards Vacuum, ESD has offered up to $21 million in a combination of performance-based Excelsior Jobs Tax Credits, Investment Tax Credits and an additional $1 million to support Workforce Development and the training of a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce in exchange for 600 new full-time jobs at the location  Additionally, the New York Power Authority Board of Trustees will review an application for low-cost Niagara hydropower at a future public meeting. 

Edwards Vacuum is anticipated to apply for agreements at a later date with the Genesee County Economic Development Center to support the company's investment at STAMP through property, sales, and mortgage tax assistance. The request would support the largest workforce and capital investment proposed by any company at a GCEDC-developed site. 

Last month, Senator Schumer personally called Edwards Vacuum President, Geert Follens, to urge the global semiconductor supply chain company to expand in Upstate New York. Senator Schumer's bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, creates an Investment Tax Credit for semiconductor manufacturing facilities and supply chain partners such as Edwards Vacuum as well as a first of its kind $52 billion in federal incentives to spur American semiconductor research, development, manufacturing, and workforce training to bring good-paying jobs back from overseas, strengthen national security, and reestablish America's technological leadership. The bill requires recipients of these incentives to make significant worker and community investments that support equitable economic growth. Edwards Vacuum is expected to also apply for incentives under the CHIPS and Science Act.  Schumer has long supported STAMP’s development and to attract new semiconductor and advanced manufacturing companies to locate at STAMP.  Schumer said these new federal and state investments are creating a new ‘Erie Canal’ across upstate New York by attracting thousands of new jobs in the semiconductor industry from the Hudson Valley to Western New York’s STAMP. 

Semiconductors, and their supply chain partners, are vital to the nation's economic strength, serving as the brains of modern electronics, and enabling technologies critical to U.S. economic growth, national security, and global competitiveness. The industry directly employs over 277,000 people in the U.S. and supports more than 1.8 million additional domestic jobs. Semiconductors are a top five U.S. export, and the industry is the number one contributor to labor productivity, supporting improvements to the effectiveness and efficiency of virtually every economic sector — from farming to manufacturing. Earlier this year, Governor Hochul signed New York's nation-leading Green CHIPS legislation into law to attract top semiconductor manufacturing businesses to the state and secure commitments to good-paying jobs, sustainability, and community benefits.

Supply chain issues and a decline in the United States' share of global chip production are causing undue hardships to every aspect of the economy. This erosion of U.S. chip production capacity puts the nation at a strategic disadvantage in several critical areas, including national security, technological innovation, and economic growth and independence. Because more than 300 industries use chips — from cars to cellphones — their scarcity drives up prices of other consumer goods. Edwards Vacuum’s new facility will position New York State as a national leader in reshoring vital semiconductor jobs to the U.S. 

Genesee County Legislature Chair Shelley Stein said, “We are so proud that STAMP will be the location of the largest economic development investment in the history of Genesee County. On behalf of my colleagues in the Genesee County Legislature we welcome Edwards Vacuum to our community and look forward to their success here and the career opportunities they will provide for our hard-working residents. This announcement demonstrates the diligent focus of Genesee County to plan, prepare and welcome 21st-century manufacturing to our county.” 

Town of Alabama Supervisor Rob Crossen said,  “Our shared vision through the development of STAMP is to play a role in bringing new jobs and investments to Genesee County and to improve the quality of life for our residents. The latter has begun through enhanced infrastructure improvements, especially as it pertains to water services, and we’re pleased that STAMP and our community is attracting advanced manufacturing companies and good paying jobs.” 

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy and SUNY Geneseo President Denise Battles said, "We congratulate Edwards Vacuum on this incredible project, and welcome them to the state-of-the-art Western NY Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park in Genesee County. These top-quality jobs will help to energize the regional economy, furthering its reputation as the center of technology and progress.

Steve Hyde, Genesee County Economic Development Center President & CEO, said, “There is a saying that economic development is a marathon and not a sprint and that has been our approach to STAMP ever since it was a concept on paper over a decade ago. That’s why it is so gratifying to see how that steady and purposeful approach is resulting in a significant return on the investment that has been made through the years by our public and private sector partners and in particular by Senator Schumer and Governor Hochul by this announcement today. This announcement shows that STAMP and our region are the ideal location for semiconductor industry growth.” 

Greater Rochester Enterprise President and CEO Matt Hurlbutt said, “Edwards Vacuum, an innovative vacuum equipment manufacturer that serves the semiconductor industry, is expanding at the Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Greater Rochester, NY region to capitalize on this mega site’s unique infrastructure, which includes reliable, low-cost hydropower and unlimited water supply. Rochester, NY is also attractive because of the concentration of highly skilled talent with mechanical and electrical engineering expertise and regional workforce development partners who offer stackable credential programs and certificate programs to train Edward Vacuum’s future workforce. GRE connected Edwards Vacuum to numerous economic development resources to support this expansion in Rochester and will continue to support the company as this project unfolds.” 

This major investment adds to New York's already robust semiconductor industry. In addition to Micron’s major $100 billion investment in Central New York, New York has multiple global industry chip leaders like GlobalFoundries, Wolfspeed, onsemi, and IBM. New York is also home to the world-renowned Albany Nanotech Complex, which is a multibillion-dollar public-private partnership, comprising the most advanced, publicly owned, 300-millimeter semiconductor research and development facility and bringing together premier universities and leading industry players to drive cutting-edge chip development. Because of the tireless advocacy of Governor Hochul and Senator Schumer, semiconductor supply chain companies like Edwards are also growing as well. Earlier this year Corning Incorporated invested $139 million, creating over 270 new jobs in Monroe County to meet the demands of the growing semiconductor market.

About Edwards Vacuum  
Edwards is the leading developer and manufacturer of sophisticated vacuum products, exhaust management systems and related value-added services. These are integral to manufacturing processes for semiconductors, flat panel displays, LEDs and solar cells; are used within an increasingly diverse range of industrial processes including power, glass and other coating applications, steel and other metallurgy, pharmaceutical and chemical; and for both scientific instruments and a wide range of R&D applications. 

Edwards has more than 8,000 employees worldwide engaged in the design, manufacture and support of high technology vacuum and exhaust management equipment and has state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Europe, Asia and North America. 

Edwards is part of the Atlas Copco Group (NASDAQ OMX Stockholm: ATCO A, ATCO B), a Sweden-based provider of industrial productivity solutions. 

Further information about Edwards can be found at www.edwardsvacuum.com 

Interest high in STAMP, Hyde says, with new project announcement possible this month

By Howard B. Owens

With a bit of luck or an answered prayer, there could be an announcement about a new tenant at STAMP in Alabama within the next 30 days, said Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, in an exclusive interview with The Batavian on Monday.

"You know what, we're praying hard that the next one connects, and we've had some real big strides of late, so I'm hoping there'll be something to talk about inside of 30 days," Hyde said.

The suggestion that a deal with some sort of hi-tech firm to build a plant at the WNY Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park came at the end of an interview where Hyde discussed the interest the park is drawing from semi-conductor companies, the supply chain for those companies, and renewable energy companies.

"Things are moving, the site's market-relevant now," Hyde said. "We're seeing a lot of interest."

The biggest game changer for marketing STAMP, Hyde said, is the CHIPS and Science Act.

The legislation, authored by Sen. Charles Schumer, is intended to increase the production of semiconductors -- computer chips -- in the United States and reduce the reliance in the U.S. on Chinese semiconductors.  It's seen by supporters as a national security issue.

The act provides $52 billion in manufacturing grants and establishes a 25 percent investment tax credit for increasing semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. 

"It is critical, in my view, having lived in this industry for a decade or more, that we really need to do all we can to bring it back," Hyde said. "I applaud Sen. Schumer and a lot of our leaders. That was a bipartisan effort around CHIPS to really make this happen and now we're seeing deals from it."

One of the biggest deals so far, announced last month, is the decision by Micron Technologies to invest $100 billion to build a new plant on 1,300 acres near Syracuse

Far from losing out on that deal, the staff at GCEDC has been busy negotiating with a bevy of companies -- as many as 20 -- about space availability at Genesee County's own 1,200-acre advanced technology campus.  Hyde said there are at least five companies, and perhaps seven, that have at least a 70 percent chance of signing a deal for a facility at STAMP.

"There's a real active sales funnel at STAMP, actually," Hyde said. "It's deeper and wider than I've seen, ever."

Combined, the companies kicking tires represent $40 billion in investments and about 20,000 jobs.

Of course, they won't all fit on the campus, and depending on who eventually signs, we could see anywhere from three to six companies with facilities in the park.

The competitive landscape has shifted since STAMP was first conceived, Hyde said.  He's no longer expecting one major semiconductor company to come in and swoop up all that remains of the STAMP campus.  The project was conceived during a time when semiconductor companies only wanted to locate two or three fabrication operations in a single location, preferring to spread out manufacturing nationally, if not globally.

But as China has grown more competitive, and with the incentives of the CHIPS Act, the major firms are looking for locations that can support six to eight fabrication plants, Hyde said.  STAMP isn't designed to provide the infrastructure necessary to support that size of an operation.

He congratulated the leaders in Onondaga County for being able to put together a plan that will meet Micron's needs.

Ultimately, Micron's presence in Central New York will benefit Genesee County, he said.  It helps create a corridor of semiconductor companies and supply chain companies from Fishkill to Columbus, Ohio, including projects in Utica and Albany, with STAMP just off the I-90 that helps tie it all together.

"Honestly, a lot of these supply chain and semiconductor players like to be nearby for transportation logistics, but they don't necessarily want to be right in the back yard of another firm because of workforce (availability)."

A smaller semiconductor manufacturer might take an interest in STAMP, but Hyde suggested it's more likely that supply chain companies will move in the firms that supply semiconductor manufacturers with their tools and technological support.

"It could become a hub for semiconductor players that maybe don't take the whole campus, but fit in nicely, and it almost becomes like a hub for the semiconductor industry," Hyde said. "We've got some real interest in that, in that space right now." 

There remains high interest among green energy companies because of the renewable power source available at STAMP (Niagara Falls). It helps that Plug Power is already building what will be the nation's largest green hydrogen plant, Hyde said.

There's also a developer from Indiana who is interested in acquiring the southern portion of the STAMP site, and that developer would do some advance builds in order to attract prospective clients.

"They've got a marquee list of vendors," Hyde said.

Hyde is never one to give too much away about the deals the team at GCEDC is working on, but he didn't hide his optimism that good things are coming soon for STAMP.

"It's pretty cool that a dozen years ago, when we really kind of defined the hope and strategy and vision for the site, that those sectors that were the focus then are the hot ones now, with federal incentives really helping drive that interest level like never before," Hyde said.

Photo: File photo of Steve Hyde from 2015 by Howard Owens.

Schumer: 'We want to build the future in Batavia, not Beijing'

By Howard B. Owens
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The pandemic exposed a weakness in the U.S. economy, Sen. Charles Schumer said today while at a car dealership in Genesee County -- not enough computer chips are manufactured in the U.S., leading to a shortage in the semiconductors that help cars, along with phones, computers, and appliances, run.

Currently, only 12 percent of chips are manufactured domestically, according to Schumer, compared to 37 percent in the 1990s.

Many foreign competitors, including China, are investing heavily to dominate the industry, Schumer said. Nearly 75 percent of global semiconductor production is now occurring in East Asia, and foreign government subsidies drive the majority of the cost difference for producing semiconductors overseas and in the U.S.

In response, Schumer, the majority leader in the Senate, introduced the CHIPS and Science Act, which with the president's signature this past week, is now law.

It provides over $50 billion in federal incentives to get more chips made in the U.S.

"We say (in the bill), not only do they have to make the chips here, but they can't make any more of them in China," Schumer said. "That is very, very good for America. We're saying we want to build the future in Batavia, not Beijing, in Syracuse, not Shanghai. So I wrote this legislation with upstate in mind."

Schumer is bullish on WNY STAMP, the 1,250-acre technology park that is now shovel-ready in the Town of Alabama.  He believes that before long, there will be a semiconductor plant at the park.

"Companies are seeing upstate New York is the place to be," Schumer said. "We hope there'll be many more. And we're fighting very hard to get one at STAMP. It is seen as a great opportunity at some of the chip companies -- I'm not allowed to say who -- but they have already visited here a couple of times. The bottom line is that manufacturing chips here in New York has the potential to be our 21st century Erie Canal."

He promised to do everything he can to attract chip manufacturers to upstate New York.

"We have more shovel-ready sites, including the STAMP facility right here in Genesee County than any place in the country," he said. "I'm gonna use my clout as majority leader in making (upstate New York) the center of the country with $5 billion of federal money for all of our semiconductor advanced research and development, which attracts people here. We have a great workforce here. We have great universities here. We have cheap water and cheap electric power, which these chip plants need as well, so you put that all together, and we are ideally suited now that this bill passed."

From a press release, highlights of the legislation:

Specifically, Schumer highlighted that the bill includes:

  • $39 billion for the CHIPS for America Fund to provide federal incentives to build, expand, or modernize domestic facilities and equipment for semiconductor fabrication, assembly, testing, advanced packaging, or research and development to help attract major chip manufacturers to shovel-ready sites like STAMP in Genesee County.  
  • $11 billion for Department of Commerce research and development including creating a National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) a public-private partnership to conduct advanced semiconductor manufacturing, with Albany Nanotech primed to be a top contender to serve as a major hub for the NSTC, and other specialized R&D programs that universities across the state are in a strong position to compete for.
  • $2 billion for the DoD CHIPS for America Defense Fund.
  • $200 million for the CHIPS for America Workforce and Education Fund to kick start the development of the domestic semiconductor workforce, which faces near-term labor shortages, by leveraging activities of the National Science Foundation.
  • A new Investment Tax Credit for semiconductor manufacturing facilities and equipment.

Schumer explained that New York is uniquely suited to take advantage of these federal investments to reassert America’s global technological leadership. New York is currently home to over 80 semiconductor companies that employ over 34,000 NY workers, including global industry leaders like GlobalFoundries, Wolfspeed, onsemi, IBM, and other major microchip and innovation companies that support them like Corning Inc. in Monroe County which just announced a $139M, 270 job expansion in anticipation of this bill. Schumer said investments like these are only the beginning though, and now that his bill has finally become law, the ripple effects from more chip fabs and their supply chains being built in places like Upstate New York will give companies like Baxter and the American economy the stability it needs to avoid shocks like this again in the future. 

Jacobs votes for bill that could help land semiconductor company at STAMP

By Press Release

stamp_aerial_-_plug_power_and_looking_north_-_june_2022.png

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 4346 – CHIPS-Plus. This legislation passed the House of Representatives in a 243-187 vote and passed the Senate earlier this week 64-33.

“The COVID pandemic highlighted our overdependence on China, especially in terms of semiconductor chips which are now critical components in nearly every product and machine impacting our daily lives. China holds a major share of this market, and should they ever take over Taiwan - which is another major producer of semiconductors - our nation’s supply would be in jeopardy,” Jacobs said. “We need to urgently ‘re-shore’ chip manufacturing and bolster domestic production, this legislation will make that possible.”

“CHIPS-Plus also presents an opportunity for our region. The City of Buffalo has an opportunity to land one of the twenty tech hubs established in the bill and Genesee County has a great potential to land a semiconductor manufacturer. This could mean numerous high paying jobs and a transformational leap for our regional economy,” Jacobs said.

“This legislation is a bipartisan achievement for our economy and our nation’s security – I am proud to have voted for it, and look forward to it being signed into law,” said Jacobs.

Previously: Genesee County will benefit from $50 billion CHIPS and Science bill passed by Senate, Schumer says

Photo Courtesy GCEDC: Aerial view of Plug Power plant under construction at WNY STAMP

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