Medina native thrilled to win $1 million prize in NY’s renewable energy contest

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 26 September 2019 at 6:19 pm

Provided photos: Medina native Colin Huwyler, center, accepts a $1 million check from Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul Wednesday at Binghamton University. Huwyler, who founded Optimus Technologies in Pittsburgh, was announced as the winner of NYSERDA’s 76West Clean Energy competition. From left are Southern Tier Regional Economic Council co-chair and president of Binghamton University, Harvey Stenger; Hochul; Huwyler; New York State Energy Research and Development Authority president and CEO, Alicia Barton; and Judy McKinney Cherry, executive director of Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development.

BINGHAMTON – When Colin Huwyler got the call to be in Binghamton this week, he was hoping, but definitely not expecting to be named the winner of NYSERDA’s 76West Clean Energy competition.

When the awards were announced Wednesday at Binghamton University, Huwyler, however, was the winner of the $1 million first prize.

“I can’t even comprehend a million dollars,” said Huwyler’s mother Bobbi Huwyler of Medina, after learning of her son’s honor. “He knew he had won something, but he is very humble and was happy just to be one of the six finalists.”

Huwyler became interested in clean energy while still in Medina High School. His first endeavor while still a teenager was to purchase a diesel car and convert it to burn used salad oil.

He went on to found Optimus Technologies, which today is recognized as a leader in the field of designing and manufacturing biodiesel fuel systems for medium- and heavy-duty diesel trucks, enabling them to operate on up to 100 percent biodiesel, thereby reducing fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent.

Medina native Colin Huwyler is interviewed Wednesday by television crews in Binghamton after he was announced as the top winner of $1 million in NYSERDA’s 76West Clean Energy Competition. More than 160 companies worldwide entered the competition, which was narrowed to six finalists.

With his million dollar prize money, Huwyer plans to establish a company in the Binghamton/Ithaca area. He will be focusing his attention in the coming months on leasing a facility and setting up a growth plan for the Southern Tier region. He said his first hires will be in manufacturing, followed by engineers and technicians.

He expects to be operational in the Southern Tier by early 2020.

“This award will definitely have an impact on my business,” Huwyler said. “I am really excited to be working with NYSERDA. They are putting New York state at the forefront of renewable energy and clean technology. Hopefully, other states will take notice.”

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