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Urban Electric Power, NYSERDA, CUNY Announce Grand Opening of New West Harlem Rechargeable Battery Manufacturing Plant

NYC Regional Council Project to Create Jobs with Production of Highly Efficient, Low-Cost Batteries

August 06, 2013

Urban Electric Power (UEP), the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the City University of New York (CUNY) announced today the grand opening of a new energy storage research and manufacturing facility in West Harlem for advanced zinc anode rechargeable battery systems. The project is part of the Manhattanville Factory District redevelopment effort and is expected to create 64 new jobs.

Through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative (REDC), the New York City REDC awarded UEP more than $1.5 million in economic development resources, including $1 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for the project. Empire State Development’s (ESD) Excelsior Jobs Program is providing $522,000 in performance-based tax credits. The Excelsior tax credits are based on UEP’s investment and its commitment to create 64 new full-time jobs by 2017 in manufacturing, sales/marketing, operations, software development, engineering, and research and development.

The $6.1 million, 5,000-square-foot facility will provide research and development capabilities as well as testing and assembly of low-cost, lead-free zinc anode rechargeable batteries and battery systems. UEP has an exclusive license to this battery technology, which was developed at the CUNY Energy Institute.

The new facility will enable UEP to rapidly commercialize its products, which can be used to increase gas mileage in automobiles, reduce electric grid strain during peak usage, integrate electricity from renewable energy sources into the grid, and provide emergency power during outages.

“Energy innovation plays a critical role in the state’s economic development. Urban Electric Power’s facility is another important step in advancing the state’s energy storage industry and building resilience into its energy system infrastructure,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO, NYSERDA. “Through the commitment of private sector partners, academia and government, along with Governor Cuomo’s support, today’s grand opening demonstrates that we are establishing a cleaner, more energy-efficient energy sector that is creating jobs.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, “Advancing the clean energy industry is critical to our economic and energy future. Today’s opening of Urban Electric Power’s facility will help establish Harlem’s place in the innovation economy. Governor Cuomo and the New York City Regional Economic Development Council recognize the importance of bringing jobs and economic drivers to urban centers, and under the governor’s leadership we have seen extensive progress in the building of clean energy facilities across the state. Today’s grand opening proves what can be accomplished through public-private partnerships when business, government and academia work together in collaboration to ensure a sustainable economic future for our communities, city and state.”

Matthew Goldstein, Chair, NYCREDC and Chancellor Emeritus of the City University of New York said, “UEP’s energy storage solutions hold the promise for substantial economic development and job creation for the region. Building upon New York’s burgeoning energy technology industry, this project can serve as an effective model of innovation and sustainability and will be instrumental to the future of the state’s rapidly growing, clean-energy economy.”

“Urban Electric Power is lucky to call New York home. We have received generous and essential support from all across the state, especially the Regional Economic Development Council, NYSERDA, and NYPA,” said Eric McFarland, Chief Executive Officer of Urban Electric Power. “Our new pilot testing and manufacturing facility will allow us to quickly ramp up production to meet initial customer orders, while we look to grow through additional strategic partners and licensees to accelerate the wider marketing and sales of our batteries.”

UEP’s battery technologies have been optimized for multiple markets. The company intends to replace automotive lead acid batteries used for starting, lighting and ignition in traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. UEP is also developing batteries that can accommodate the regenerative braking and on-demand charging used in fuel-efficient micro-hybrid vehicles that can improve gas mileage by more than 10 percent and reduce air pollution in high-traffic areas.

In larger stationary applications, UEP batteries distribute electricity more efficiently, reducing costs for New York ratepayers. The batteries can be charged during off-peak hours when generation costs are low and used to supply energy during the day when costs are higher. UEP’s batteries can also be used to integrate electricity produced by renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, making it possible to use clean energy when and where it is needed.

As an electrode material, high energy density zinc is safe, reliable and 100 percent recyclable. In 2008, the CUNY Energy Institute at the City College of New York began researching ways to extend the lifetime of zinc anode batteries. The advancements developed at the CUNY Energy Institute resulted in zinc anode batteries that can recharge for ten times as many cycles as previous generations, making them more practical and cost-effective. UEP is rapidly moving their commercial prototypes to market with strategic partners.

“Over the past five years, New York State has supported the development of this transformational technology at every step, as our small experimental laboratory cells grew to 100 kilowatt-scale battery systems that will improve grid congestion and lower energy costs for all New Yorkers,” said Sanjoy Banerjee, Executive Director of the CUNY Energy Institute and Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at City College. “Moving forward, the CUNY Energy Institute will continue to drive growth through innovation and technology transfer. While Urban Electric Power may be the first company to spin out of the CUNY Energy Institute, it will not be the last.”

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) supported the scale-up and grid interconnection of Urban Electric Power's battery technology at the CUNY Energy Institute of the City College of New York. NYPA managed the design, procurement and installation of the initial battery demonstration system, and obtained final approval from Consolidated Edison Company of New York for connection to the city’s electrical grid. “We are pleased to have played a role in the progression of this important energy management project and congratulate Urban Electric Power on the opening of its new energy storage research and manufacturing facility,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “There is a tremendous opportunity for efficient, low-cost batteries to lead to job growth throughout the state while supporting the Governor’s energy goals. Energy storage technologies like this one are a prime example of how we can move New York toward a sustainable energy future.”

The new facility is located in the three-acre Manhattanville Factory District currently under construction by The Janus Property Company in West Harlem. The Factory District’s abandoned industrial buildings had been vacant and deteriorated until Janus, with the support of New York State and the West Harlem community, began a multi-phase master-planned, mixed-use redevelopment that is creating a vibrant and growing home for technology, new media, arts and culture, retail, education, not-for-profit and other commercial enterprises.

“New York State and Urban Electric Power have been terrific partners in our ongoing effort to revitalize this important West Harlem neighborhood. We are extremely excited to work with creative companies like UEP that are producing the new jobs that will drive the economy of Harlem, New York City and New York State,” said Scott Metzner, Principal of The Janus Property Company. “The extraordinary growth of West Harlem into the most important education- and arts-driven district in New York is stunning. We are proud to be a part of this forward-looking community, and of the important contributions that we, UEP and New York State are making to its resurgence.”

The Regional Economic Development Council initiative (REDC) is a key component of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s transformative approach to State investment and economic development. The Councils are public-private partnerships composed of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach and establishing a competitive process for State resources. As a result of the first two rounds of awards, $1.5 billion in investments has been awarded to support more than 1,400 regionally significant economic development and community revitalization projects that are creating or helping to retain an estimated 75,000 jobs across the Empire State and generating investments to grow the economy. For more information on the regional councils, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.govLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

Last Updated: 12/17/2013

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