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CUMBERLAND — A renewable energies incubator will soon open at Frostburg State University, allowing companies and students to collaborate in designing alternative power systems.

A webinar on the topic was held Tuesday and was hosted by Jennifer Walsh, executive director of The Greater Cumberland Committee. The event was part of the TGCC Zoom Speaker Series on clean energy.

The incubator and testing center will be located in the Allegany Business Center on the FSU campus. The project is being led by Len Jornlin, CEO of Optimize Renewables of Hagerstown, a firm with decades of experience in designing and installing renewable energy systems around the globe.

Jornlin and Al Delia, FSU’s vice president for regional development and engagement, provided details about the project.

“We want to bring together synergistic companies in the clean energy industries to look at ways to help fuel the construction of our economy in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way then we have in the past,” said Delia. “We are trying to bring cybersecurity, biotech and laboratory sciences to the region so that these industries can work together to revitalize the economy. We are doing that here on campus, which will be used as a testbed and focal point for all these industries.”

Delia said more than 6,000 square feet will be dedicated for the incubator.

“COVID has slowed it a bit, but we want to start it in the spring in the development of new microgrids, and we are proud to have appointed Len Jornlin as the entrepreneur-in-residence,” said Delia.

Optimize Renewables, which Jornlin also co-founded, has participated in constructing hundreds of projects. The company’s expertise includes multiple power-generating technologies — including solar, CHP (combined heat and power), biogas, wind, geothermal, biomass and energy storage.

The company has worked with companies such as General Motors, Whole Foods, Ikea as well as many county governments. Jornlin’s company creates microgrids to offer sustainable energy for buildings or facilities focusing on underserved areas. One of their latest projects was creating charging stations for electric vehicle producers.

Optimize Renewables also brings startups together to create the systems and monitoring devices.

“The traffic cop for the systems is the energy management software,” said Jornlin. “We collaborate to develop these essential tools. We are excited about this project. We are kind of like a Swiss army knife of renewables, including working with natural gas. We hope to have companies which will be good sister companies to work with us. But the meat of it is real projects.”

Delia said the center is expected to aid workforce development while creating new jobs to test, install and maintain the microgrids.

Greg Larry is a reporter at Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 304-639-4951, email glarry@times-news.com and follow him on Twitter.

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