Biden Visits Cummins, Promotes Clean Energy

President Also Touts Job Growth, Manufacturing
President Biden checks out a machine at a Cummins facility
President Biden checks out a machine at the Cummins Power Generation facility in Fridley, Minn., April 3. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

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FRIDLEY, Minn. — President Joe Biden on April 3 toured a power generation facility here that will get a share of at least $1 billion in upgrades that engine and equipment manufacturer Cummins is planning for facilities around the country as it works on development of low- to zero-carbon engines.

“Instead of relying on equipment made overseas in places like China, our supply chains will be again made in America,” Biden said. “Companies and utilities across the country will use those products to make clean hydrogen, and trucks made in America with zero-emission engines will be powered by clean hydrogen.”

Cummins late last year announced an initial investment in electrolyzer manufacturing at the Minnesota facility, just two months after the president signed the Inflation Reduction Act. Now the company is readying another $10 million investment in the plant.

“When Cummins first manufactured hydrogen electrolyzers they had to make them overseas,” Biden noted. “These are the machines that make clean hydrogen renewable energy used to power our economy, from clean cars to trucks to steel to cement manufacturing.”

More than half of the medium- and heavy-duty trucks on U.S. roads are powered by Cummins engines, the company said, and stressed that it believes the future is in lower-emission engines.

The company also is planning upgrades to facilities in Indiana, North Carolina and New York as part of its efforts to develop low- to zero-carbon engines.

“In just a few weeks, we will begin manufacturing one of the key pieces of technology for green hydrogen production that will help decarbonize our economy and drive the clean energy transition — the electrolyzer,” Cummins CEO Jennifer Rumsey said in a statement. “Support from the Biden administration and Congress with legislation like the bipartisan infrastructure law and Inflation Reduction Act are driving the clean energy economy forward in the United States, and are critical to our decarbonization efforts.”

Cummins said it will invest $425 million in its 998,000-square-foot Jamestown, N.Y., plant for production of a fuel-agnostic, 15-liter internal combustion engine — dubbed the X15N — that can deploy a range of lower-carbon fuel types. .

Cummins said Walmart, Werner, Matheson and National Ready Mix are among the transportation companies testing the X15N platform. This month, Walmart is set to begin its first field test unit of the engine running on renewable natural gas.

“We are grateful to President Biden and Congress for the vision on clean energy and the confidence in American business to deliver on it,” Cummins Senior Vice President Tony Satterthwaite said.

Joe Biden

Biden tours the facility. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

According to the Department of Energy, electrolyzers are an apparatus that produces hydrogen through a chemical process called electrolysis, which separates hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Hydrogen produced in this way is sustainable, without emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

“The electrolyzer is a pretty key enabler that will help the industry move toward hydrogen faster,” Cummins Managing Director for Hydrogen Technologies Alex Savelli told Transport Topics. “I tell my colleagues I have one of the best jobs at Cummins — it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help create something that currently doesn’t exist yet that is very important for the world. There’s a lot of work to scale up these technologies and deploy them so they can become a reality, and that is really cool.”

Joe Biden

Biden addresses the crowd in Minnesota. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press) 

The 1.1 million-square-foot Fridley facility near Minneapolis employs more than 900 workers, and nearly 90,000 square feet will be dedicated to electrolyzer production beginning April 24. Cummins said it’s expected the expansion will support 100 new jobs by 2024.

Biden told the audience that it’s private sector investments such as these, with the backing of the federal government, that will position the U.S. for greater prosperity in the future that boosts the middle class.

“Now thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act with tax credits for renewable energy, Cummins is going to manufacture these electrolyzers here in America for the first time,” Biden said. “All these investments mean that now if you grow up in Minnesota, if you go to school in Minnesota, you can stay in Minnesota. The Midwest is coming back screaming. There’s good jobs you can raise a family on.”

The White House pointed out that Biden’s trip to Cummins was a way to highlight the CHIPS and Science Act, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, the $1 trillion infrastructure legislation and a roughly $375 billion climate bill — major bills that his administration steered into law before Democrats lost control of the House in last year’s elections to Republicans.

The company said the upgrade plans at the plants in Indiana and North Carolina will be made public later.

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