In Letter, Casey Offers to Work with Aquion to Make Former Sony Plant a Reality
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today released a letter to Scott Pearson, CEO of Aquion Energy, urging him to choose Westmoreland County as a the site of a major expansion for the company.
Aquion has plans to expand its highly successful advanced battery manufacturing business and is currently conducting a nationwide search for a new location. The company is currently considering Westmoreland County’s former Sony plant as a possible expansion site along with sites in other states. In his letter, Senator Casey urged Mr. Pearson to choose the Sony plant for the company’s expansion and offered to work with the company to make the Westmoreland County location a reality.
“Aquion Energy is one of Pennsylvania’s most successful companies, and Pittsburgh is the perfect place for it to expand,” Senator Casey said. “The region’s workers have been critical to Aquion’s success so it’s important that our region be able to share in the job growth that comes from that success. Aquion’s expansion will create hundreds of jobs and much needed economic growth, and the right place to see those benefits is Westmoreland County.”
Aquion is set for a major expansion that will add hundreds of jobs. The company’s leadership is currently conducting a nationwide search for an expansion site, with Westmoreland County’s former Sony plant being one potential. In his letter to Aquion’s CEO, Senator Casey urged the company to keep any expansion within the Pittsburgh region and to strongly consider the former Sony plant as a location. Senator Casey also pledged to work with the company in an effort to help it expand in the region.
A brief history of the company from Aquion is below:
In 2007, Dr. Jay Whitacre used R&D funding from Carnegie Mellon University to start a project aimed at discovering novel, low cost electrochemical couples optimized for stationary electricity storage applications. Whitacre observed that most advanced electrochemical storage systems target mobile applications, where size and weight are key value drivers. In 2008, Whitacre had results promising enough he decided to write a patent application and contact David Wells of Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB). Wells, Whitacre, and KPCB senior partner Bill Joy subsequently worked to found an incubation company called 44 Tech Inc, which licensed from CMU exclusive rights to the core invention. Fundamental R&D work then continued at CMU under a sponsored research agreement.
In the spring of 2009, Whitacre’s lab results had demonstrated commercial potential. 44 Tech hired its first employee, Ted Wiley and intern Ed Lynch Bell, and brought on board KPCB operating partner Jan van Dokkum as an interim CEO. In the fall of 2009, 44 Tech raised a round of venture funding and won a substantial Department of Energy grant. In January 2010, the company was renamed Aquion Energy, moved into its R&D headquarters in Pittsburgh, and began building a team to commercialize the technology.
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter is below:
Dear Mr. Pearson,
I would like to thank you for taking my phone call and would like to commend you and your team for all of the great work Aquion Energy is currently conducting at your Pittsburgh facility.
I have been advised that Aquion Energy-along with your investment partners-is set to conclude a national search for factory space to accommodate your planned manufacturing expansion. It is my understanding that with this expansion, Aquion Energy will have the capacity to create hundreds of good paying jobs in a wide range of employment categories. I am heartened to hear that the former Sony plant located in Westmoreland County, has been identified as potential site. I would like to encourage Aquion to relocate and expand at the former Sony Plant.
Being familiar with the former Sony plant and aware that this potential expansion could have an enormous economic development impact on the region, I am encouraged to hear that Aquion Energy is working with various local and regional stakeholders, such as, the Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority, Westmoreland/Fayette County Workforce Investment Board, Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC), the Allegheny Conference on Community and Economic Development, the Pittsburgh Technology Council, and the Department of Community and Economic Development/Governors Action Team. I am confident that the above mentioned group of stakeholders will provide you with the necessary resources to enable your expansion.
As a member of the United States Senate and the Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, I am committed to creating and fostering an environment in which manufacturers are able to excel and compete on a global scale. As a Carnegie Mellon spin-off, Aquion Energy is yet another example of a manufacturer located in southwestern Pennsylvania that is ready to grow and compete in the global market place. I strongly believe that the southwestern Pennsylvania region and its workforce embodies that competitive spirit and hope that Aquion Energy chooses to expand at the former Sony plant.
Robert P. Casey Jr.
United States Senator