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Bus Battery Maker Coming To City

New York state Gov. Kathy Hochul has made it official.

Electrovaya, Inc., a producer of lithium-ion batteries for transportation and utility storage, has selected the town of Ellicott in Chautauqua County as the location for its first U.S. plant.

The publicly traded company will create its newest production facility, generating up to 250 jobs and, when fully operational, producing over a GWh of batteries annually. The investment supports the broader New Energy New York initiative, whose goal is to create a National Hub for Battery Innovation and Manufacturing. In July, Hochul announced a hydropower allotment to Electrovaya from the Niagara Power Project through the New York Power Authority.

“New York state continues to play a leading role in the research and development of advanced, cutting-edge, and innovative energy technologies,” Hochul said. “Thanks to state resources, Electrovaya is bringing up to 250 jobs to Chautauqua County and deepening New York’s involvement in the growing clean energy sector. The race is on to capture the high-paying jobs that come with clean tech, and there is no place like New York for these manufacturers to grow, operate, and thrive.”

The company will set up operations at the former Acu-Rite location at 1 Precision Way in an effort to tap into the robust lithium-ion battery demand for e-forklifts, e-trucks and e-buses. The sale of the property was reported last week in The Post-Journal and OBSERVER as $5 million and purchased by Sustainable Energy Jamestown LLC of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. It was sold by Heidenhain Corp., a foreign business corporation authorized to conduct business in New York state, as successor by merger of Acu-Rite Companies Inc. and Acu-Rite Incorporated with an office in Lisle, Ill.

“I am excited that Electrovaya has selected Chautauqua County as a venue to expand its operations,” said County Executive PJ Wendel. “Its investment will bring new life to the old Heidenhain facility at the Mason Industrial Park as the company continues its success in lithium battery production while creating up to 250 jobs in our County over the course of 10 years.”

Electrovaya selected this southern Chautauqua County facility after determining it as the best location for the company to provide services to its growing customer base in the United States, given its skilled labor force and available renewable electricity amongst other advantages.

“As the United States and world enter an unprecedented phase of growth for electric vehicles and electro-mobility, lithium-ion batteries and the components within them are crucial for the industry’s success,” said Dr. Raj Das Gupta, Electrovaya CEO. “Electrovaya is proud to be bringing our sustainable technologies and approaches to New York State, as Electrovaya’s first United States-based commercial facility. The facility will produce lithium-ion cells and modules, critical components for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries. We are pleased to support the creation of high-quality jobs in Chautauqua County and look forward to our continued growth in Western New York.”

Empire State Development is assisting the project with up to $4 million through the performance-based Excelsior Jobs Tax Credit Program and $2.5 million in Regional Council Capital Funding to establish this production and manufacturing facility for lithium-ion batteries at a former manufacturing facility, leveraging the creation of 250 new jobs and the production of 1GWh of battery and energy storage devices over the next five years. In July, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) Board of Trustees approved a more than 1.5-megawatt low-cost hydropower allocation to Jamestown under the Power Authority’s Industrial Economic Development program to meet the increased electric load resulting from the project. The initial cost for the facility has been placed at approximately $75 million, and it is expected to open in the fall of 2023.

“What absolutely great news for Chautauqua County and the greater Jamestown area,” said David Leathers, Jamestown BPU general manager. “The Jamestown BPU territory remains a very attractive location for manufacturing businesses and the BPU board members and staff are excited about welcoming Electrovaya into our community. Our objective is to attract clean energy and climate technology manufacturing leaders to Jamestown and this new lithium-ion battery and cell producer is an exciting addition to the industrial hub on the eastern part of our system. We are committed to support the Electrovaya team and help them to thrive in their new facility.”

The former Acu-Rite building at 1 Precision Way has been vacant since 2018. Heidenhain announced in April 2018 that 40 employees of the optics and electronics business would be laid off as it moved its operations elsewhere. MD Electronics, also previously located on Precision Way in Ellicott, announced in September of that year it was closing and moving business to Mexico. County IDA officials said in May that Arktura, which had previously announced plans to occupy the building, was no longer the tenant. IDA officials said Sustainable Energy Jamestown LLC had purchased the building while saying the company may come back to the IDA in the future once a tenant had been secured.

“I’m grateful that the CCIDA could be a part of securing a responsible party in a burgeoning industry to purchase and invest in this wonderful building and put it back into productive use,” said Mark Geise, Deputy County Executive for Economic Development and county IDA CEO. “The CCIDA will continue to work with Electrovaya to ensure they have the resources they need to get production underway and are sustainable in the long-run. Besides Electrovaya, I would like to thank Invest Buffalo Niagara, Empire State Development, the Town of Ellicott, the CCIDA Team, New York State Power Authority, Hanna Holt Reality (Melissa Uber), and all of the other stakeholders who had a hand in bringing this project to fruition.”

With purchase order volumes increasing, Electrovaya’s revenues are expected to continue to grow to more than $42 million in 2023, according to the company’s third quarter financial statements. That’s double the expected revenue total of about $21 million for 2022. In July, Electrovaya announced the receipt of a battery purchase order through its OEM sales channel valued at $11 million. The batteries will be used by a leading Fortune 100 company to power materials handling electric vehicles in four distribution centers in the United States.

“It is great news that the Chautauqua County IDA, its staff, and County Executive Wendel have convinced Electrovaya to proceed with its lithium battery manufacturing plans in Jamestown,” said state Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown. “These products will play a key role in our future. Our area has a proud history of dedicated and high-quality employees that will undoubtedly make this project a success.”

In addition to its existing business, Electrovaya has also developed a proprietary lithium-ion battery technology possessing a combination of high energy capacity, long cycle life, and operational safety. The resulting battery systems are suited for vehicles operating over 12 hours per day and requiring at least one full charge cycle per day, including e-buses and e-trucks.

In June, Electrovaya was awarded a U.S. patent for a unique battery electrode microstructure with superior distribution of active and non-active materials. Electrovaya continues to spend significant effort on its research and development activities for next generation lithium ion batteries at its dedicated Electrovaya Labs division site and establishing new intellectual property is one of the company’s key priorities.

“Congratulations to all who helped secure another economic development win for Chautauqua County and our whole region,” said state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay. “Our community has proven time and again that it has the workforce, infrastructure and business-friendly leadership that manufacturers like Electrovaya are seeking. The company’s forward focused technology will complement other burgeoning industries in the area and contribute to job and economic growth in the years ahead.”

Electrovaya was founded in 1996 and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2000. It was selected by NASA to provide aerocam power system and additional lithium-ion batteries in 2004 before winning a contract to supply batteries for the Chrysler Ram in 2010. It powered the world’s first electric ferry in Norway in 2012 and in 2020 announced expansion of forklift battery production at its new manufacturing site and headquarters.

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