A $1 million award, part of a clean energy competition designed to bring jobs and opportunities to New York state and the Southern Tier, was granted to a Texas solar heating company at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Binghamton on Wednesday, the same day the city was designated a Clean Energy Community.
Skyven Technologies, of Dallas, Texas, was awarded the grand prize and will expand its operations in the Southern Tier, as one of six finalists named in the 76West Clean Energy Competition.
Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the 76West Clean Energy Competition, which Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul called “one of the largest clean energy competitions in the country,” awarded a total of $2.5 million to six companies Wednesday, selected from eight finalists announced in July.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul with the winners of the 76West Clean Energy Competition on Wednesday in Binghamton. (Photo: KATIE SULLIVAN / Staff Photo)
Officials said the competition complements Southern Tier Soaring, the region’s strategy to generate “robust economic growth and community development.”
“This is so important because people from around the country are now discovering this is a place where other entrepreneurs have found their way,” Hochul said. “They’re going to be part of something new and exciting.”
Winning companies must commit either to move to the Southern Tier or establish a direct connection with the Southern Tier, according to a news release. Companies already in the Southern Tier must commit to substantially growing their business and employment in the region.
“It’s a real validation of all the exciting things happening on the ground in the Southern Tier,” said Alicia Barton, president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Spencer-based Biological Energy was one of four businesses to win $250,000 on Wednesday. Others hailed from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; New York City; and Berkeley, California. SunTegra, of Port Chester, New York, was awarded $500,000. In its second year, the 76West Competition was launched in December and received applications from around the world, officials said.
“It shows that there’s a center of gravity that’s really drawing companies from around the country and eventually around the world to this area,” Barton said. “It is the kind of place where clean energy companies are getting state support, and finding resources and partners they need to take their company to the next level.”
From left, Alicia Barton, president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority; Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul; and Binghamton Mayor Richard David. (Photo: KATIE SULLIVAN / Staff Photo)
Arun Gupta, founder and CEO of Skyven Technologies, first heard about 76West while presenting at the Rice Alliance Energy and Clean Technology Venture Forum in Houston, Texas. Skyven uses solar heating techniques to reduce fossil fuel consumption in agriculture and other industries. Before the competition, Gupta said he’d never been to the Southern Tier.
“It has surprised me at all levels,” he said. “Being from Texas, an energy state, we have a lot to learn from this state on clean energy.”
The next step, he said, is to begin manufacturing the Skyven product here in the Southern Tier.
“We believe it’s going to result in many more jobs and opportunities for local residents,” Hochul said of the 76West competition. “With companies who are committed to stay here, plant their roots and make sure that they’re part of the ecosystem of the future, focused on clean energy.”
In addition to announcing the 76West winners, Hochul also recognized the City of Binghamton as the first in the Southern Tier to earn the designation of a Clean Energy Community, granted by NYSERDA.
Binghamton’s conversion of city street lights to energy-efficient LED technology, installation of an electric vehicle charging station, energy code enforcement training and streamlined approval process for local solar projects factored into the designation.
“I’m proud that Binghamton has been recognized by NYSERDA for its commitment to clean energy and protecting our environment,” Binghamton Mayor Richard David said in a statement. “These projects are good for taxpayers and support our collective efforts to address climate change.”
Hochul said the city is now eligible to apply for $250,000 in grants to fund additional clean energy projects.