Current Investment Tax Credit For Fuel Cells Expires At The End Of This Year; Schumer Says It Is A Proven Job Creator For Capital Region And Must Be Extended 

Extending This Tax Credit Will Continue to Improve Future Investments In Fuel Cells & Maintain Momentum For Capital Region’s Plug Power, A National Leader In Fuel Cells For Forklifts

Schumer: Extended Tax Credit Would Power Up New Jobs In The Capital Region 

During a visit to Latham, NY, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today toured the Plug Power facility to see first-hand the growth the fuel cell company has made since his last visit in June 2010, and launched his bi-partisan effort to extend the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for fuel cells. Schumer explained that the fuel cell ITC was a critical stimulus for the company’s success and its extension is needed so the company can continue to thrive and create jobs. Schumer’s visit in 2010 came just as the company began to launch its GenDrive fuel cells for forklifts and other off-road vehicles. Since then, employment at the Latham plant has more than tripled, as the company and its partners have leveraged the fuel cell ITC credit to grow this product line, all while adding other product lines. Therefore, Schumer said this fuel cell ITC must be extended, as it has been used to grow this Capital Region company as well as incentivize its customers to make the jump to clean, American-made energy technologies, like its fuel cells. During his visit, Schumer also personally conducted Plug Power’s one-millionth fuel cell refill from its own hydrogen dispenser and said that investing in these types of technologies will help further power up this company as well as the entire regional economy.

“This tax credit not only incentivizes businesses to purchase clean, American-made fuel cells from innovative companies like Plug Power, but it is also a proven job creator. When I was last here in 2010, Plug Power was beginning to take advantage of the fuel cell ITC. Today, this company’s revenue has increased by over 400 percent and its workforce has tripled to over 330 employees. This credit has helped power-up jobs and economic development in the Capital Region in the past and will continue to do so into the future, so long as both sides of the aisle can come together and make this extension a reality,” said Schumer. “So I will continue pressing to get this done and bring my colleagues together, from both sides of the aisle, to pass this extension – because this pro-business credit should continue to allow companies like Plug Power to reap its economic benefits for a generation to come.”

Schumer explained that hydrogen and fuel cell technologies offer the potential for a clean and reliable alternative energy source. A fuel cell is an electrochemical device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with water and heat as its byproduct. As long as fuel is supplied, the fuel cell will continue to generate power.  Since the conversion of the fuel to energy takes place via an electrochemical process, not combustion, the process is clean, quiet and highly efficient. 

As the U.S. considers pathways to achieve aggressive goals for gas and greenhouse gas reductions, Schumer said it is critical this country develop diverse technological options, like fuel cells. Other countries, like Japan and Germany, are aggressively pursuing hydrogen and fuel cell product development, and Schumer said the U.S. must continue to invest in this industry if it is going to remain a leader. Schumer said one critical way the federal government can invest in this industry and help spur further growth is by extending the fuel cell ITC. Fuel cells became eligible for the ITC after the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In 2008, the fuel cell ITC was extended through 2016 and its maximum cap was increased.  This tax credit allows companies to reduce their income taxes by 30 percent of their investment in a fuel cell product, which helps defray the cost of switching over to the new technology.

During his visit to Latham, Schumer explained that the Capital Region is an emerging national hub for clean energy technologies and is home to production plants that employ many New Yorkers, like Plug Power. Plug Power produces power sources that harness fuel cell technology. The company’s products are used to power forklifts and other off-road vehicles, a critical piece of equipment needed in a retail setting. Many of Plug Power’s customers are considered to be a “who’s who” in American retail, and include companies like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, P&G, Nike and many others. Plug Power currently maintains several product lines, including its flagship GenDrive device. The GenDrive is a fuel cell-based power source that provides the clean energy forklifts and other off-road vehicles need to operate. These canisters are inserted directly into the forklift or off-road vehicle to provide this power. The company also produces its GenFuel product, which is an outdoor storage and indoor dispensing infrastructure that is used to re-fuel the GenDrive devices.

Schumer said the fuel cell ITC has greatly benefited companies like Plug Power in the past for two reasons. First, this fuel cell ITC has helped incentivize Plug Power’s customers to make the jump to this clean, American-made energy technology. Schumer said this 30 percent tax credit greatly helps Plug Power’s customers purchase the fuel cell products they need for these forklifts and off-road vehicles. This therefore increases Plug Power’s bottom line. Plug’s GenDrive fuel cells offer a much more efficient, longer lasting and clean alternative to old lead based batteries, which have to be carefully disposed of when they wear out. Second, this tax credit has been a proven job creator. Schumer’s visit in 2010 came after the fuel cell ITC’s long-term extension, and just as the company began to launch its GenDrive fuel cell products for forklifts and other off-road vehicles. Since then, employment at the Latham plant has more than tripled, as the company has leveraged this tax credit to grow its GenDrive product line and add critical product lines like GenFuel.

In 2010, Plug Power had 87 employees, one major product line and boasted $19.5 million in product revenue. Today, Plug Power has more than 330 employees between its Latham, NY and Spokane, WA facilities, including more than 190 permanent employees and 75 temporary. The company now has five major product lines and boasts in excess of $100 million in product revenue. Schumer said revenue alone has therefore increased more than 400 percent for the company. In 2015, Plug Power shipped in excess of 3,600 units, compared with the 650 units shipped in 2010.

Schumer said this is all evidence that this company is doing great work in the Capital Region and was able to use the fuel cell ITC to its benefit over the last several years. According to company officials, Plug Power’s success since 2010 has been, in part, due to the fact that it was able to take advantage of the fuel cell ITC and was able to dramatically grow its operations and product lines as a result of the credit.

However, Schumer said, this tax credit is set to lapse at the end of 2016. Schumer is therefore launching his push to extend this credit. Schumer said doing so would allow businesses to utilize this credit for years to come and would therefore increase both Plug Power’s revenue and its ability to contribute to the Capital Region economy by expanding operations and potentially hiring more workers. Schumer said extending this credit would be a shot in the arm for Plug Power and the Capital Region, and he urged his colleagues in Congress to pass this fuel cell ITC extension as soon as possible.

Schumer was joined by Andy Marsh, President and CEO of Plug Power.

“We’re proud to bring jobs and manufacturing to the United States and upstate New York,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “Plug Power is thankful for Senator Schumer’s continued support as we have grown the fuel cell market into a commercial powerhouse in America.” 



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