FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 3, 2012
SCHUMER FIGHTS FOR FUEL CELL FUNDING ESSENTIAL TO PLUG POWER: BILL INCLUDING FUEL CELL MARKET TRANSFORMATION FUNDS CLEARS KEY SENATE COMMITTEE – SCHUMER URGES FULL SENATE TO FOLLOW SUIT
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that a key Senate Committee cleared legislation to include federal funding that is critical to Plug Power Inc.’s continued commercialization of fuel cell products. Earlier this year, the Administration proposed a $24 million cut to the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy(EERE) budget for fuel cell research and development and excluded market transformation funding altogether. After the Administration’s budget was revealed, Schumer successfully called on his colleagues to restore funding to the fuel cell program and specifically include $15 million for market transformation activities. This highly competitive program hasaccelerated the commercialization of numerous fuel cell technologies like the ones being developed at Plug Power in Latham, NY. This funding is crucial for the entire fuel cell and hydrogen industry working to reduce dependence on foreign oil and develop a clean energy economy. The Senate Committee on Energy and Water passed legislation that would restore this $15 million in federal funding for these market transformation activities.
“We have one of the world’s preeminent manufacturers of fuel cells right here in the Capital Region, and it would be wrong to jeopardize clean technology jobs and eliminate funding to support critical clean energy research, development and manufacturing initiatives,” said Schumer. “Investing in growing clean energy companies is great for the Capital Region, our environment, and our economy. The Committee’s vote of confidence is a giant step forward, but there is still more work to do. I’m going to keep fighting for this funding on the Senate floor, until it’s signed, sealed and delivered.”
"We are thankful to Senator Schumer for his unyielding support for fuel cell technology and for understanding the value of the market transformation activities at the Department of Energy,” said Andy Marsh, CEO at Plug Power Inc. “This funding is critical to accelerate the use of fuel cells in early market applications. It allows customers to comfortably adopt new, clean energy products while improving energy efficiency and productivity."
Prior market transformation funding initiatives to commercialize fuel cell products have been met with overwhelming success. In 2009, the Department of Energy helped support the commercial deployment of approximately 400 fuel cell forklifts in real-world customer operations. This investment contributed to the early wide-spread adoption of this technology and these products. To date, Plug Power has manufactured and shipped more than 2,000 GenDrive fuel cell systems to material handling customers.
Plug Power is a national leader in the manufacturing of fuel cells for industrial off-road vehicles. Since 1997, the Company has developed and manufactured clean and renewable fuel cell products for customers worldwide. Plug Power currently houses its national headquarters in Latham, NY where it employs approximately 195 employees, representing nearly 34% job-growth since December 2010.
The Committee’s legislation directs a portion of this funding to be used specifically for hydrogen refueling infrastructure systems which are vital to hydrogen-fuel cell technology. The legislation restores $24 million for a total of $104 million in EERE for fuel cell research and development and would also restore $25 million for the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) in the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy.