This is a developing story and may be updated.
Story updated on Dec. 22, 2022 at 2:40 p.m.
Gov. Jim Justice announced today that Form Energy, out of Massachusetts, will partner with the State of West Virginia to build its first iron-air battery manufacturing facility. The plant will be built on 55 acres of property in the northern panhandle of West Virginia, along the Ohio River, in the city of Weirton.
Justice said the fully non-carbonized plant is guaranteed to create a minimum of 750 new full-time jobs and will represent a total investment of up to $760 million.
“The funds put toward this project are guaranteed, secured, and collateralized through ownership of all land and buildings by the state. The West Virginia Economic Development Authority allocated $75 million toward the purchase of land and the construction of buildings in Weirton this morning,” Justice said in a press release. “I plan on working with the West Virginia Legislature and our federal partners to obtain an additional $215 million needed to finalize our agreement.”
The release notes that Form Energy is an American energy storage technology and manufacturing company that is developing and commercializing an iron-air battery capable of storing electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with legacy power plants. The company’s pioneering multi-day battery will reshape the electric system to reliably run on 100 percent low-cost, non-carbon, renewable energy, every day of the year.
Mateo Jaramillo, co-founder and CEO of Form Energy told those gathered at the West Virginia Culture Center for the announcement that Weirton was the ideal site for the company’s first U.S. plant.
“After a year-long nationwide site selection process that started with identifying over 500 candidate locations across 16 states, it became abundantly clear that Weirton, West Virginia – a historic steel community that sits on a river and has the rich heritage and know-how to make great things out of iron – is the ideal location for our first commercial battery production factory,” Jaramillo said. “We look forward to working with Weirton community leaders in the coming months to determine how we can best support the needs of local residents in the area through lasting community partnership and engagement.”
Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, offered some heartfelt comments about his hometown.
“I grew up in downtown Weirton, less than half a mile from the site where this facility is going to be. All of my grandfathers worked at Weirton Steel. An announcement like today’s is something that is very personal to me,” Weld said. “This is an enormous day on a path to rebuilding downtown Weirton, a path to being what was the crown jewel of manufacturing in the state of West Virginia.”
Justice said West Virginia must always support its coal and gas, natural resources industries. But he said the state is moving to the forefront of energy diversity.
“Today is further testimony to us moving into a into an economy to where we’re diversified even more,” Justice said. “We want goodness across the board. We want West Virginia to be known forevermore as that energy state that always figured it out.”
Form Energy expects to start construction of its Weirton factory in 2023 and begin manufacturing iron-air battery systems in 2024 for broad commercialization.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., added to the expectation of more such facilities and jobs to come.
“Once again, West Virginia has won a highly competitive process to bring new jobs and opportunities to the Mountain State,” Capito said. “Today’s announcement was truly a collaborative effort, and I want to congratulate Governor Justice, Secretary Carmichael, and the leadership of the West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates in working together to bring Form Energy to our Northern Panhandle. If West Virginia is going to continue to be an energy state, we must embrace new technologies, but also tell our story on a national and global level. I look forward to working with the visionary leadership of Form Energy as they ramp up their production in West Virginia, and look forward to more positive developments for our home state in the future.”