TWST: What is Plug Power today? What have been some of the more recent, significant milestones or transitions that have come into play?
Dr. Saillant: Plug Power is a fuel cell company located in Latham, New York. We went public in 1999. We have been working on what we would consider a series of products that will eventually get us into the mass residential fuel cell market. However, along the way, we have been very focused on value propositions for products that could enter the market now.
One of those products is GenCore', a premium battery backup replacement for the telecommunications industry. Actually, we have been selling this product into the market for about two years. The market adoption has many hurdles to it. For example, we have to be certified by various government and public agencies and we have to be able to pass internal testing requirements for the telecommunications industry. We are moving along with relationships in various stages of development with at least the nine top telecommunications companies in the world; we are trying to enter it from a global front.
I think that the most significant event that has happened to us in the past six to 12 months has been a large infusion of cash from Russia through an investment vehicle called Smart Hydrogen, which is backed up by money from Interros and Norilsk Nickel. They are investing with about a 35% ownership in our company to help commercialize some of the technologies in Russia and also to introduce our products into the Russian market. Based on their evaluation around the world, they think that we are one of, if not the leading stationary fuel cell company in the world. That is why they are making their investment.
TWST: What is the agenda at this point? What are your priorities for the next six to 12 months?
Dr. Saillant: My priorities never change; it is finding the shortest path to profitability. To do that, I am trying to reduce system cost and improve system reliability. And that means engaging the marketing people to understand what designs will sell, and engaging our sales force in order to promote sales in the most aggressive and reasonable way we can in the various markets throughout the world. My stated milestone for this year has been that we will sell somewhere between 500 and 650 fuel cell systems this year. We are on track to do that, and there is no reason to reduce my confidence.