ATLANTA (AP) — A company that produces hydrogen to fuel vehicles and electric generators says it will invest $84 million to build a hydrogen refinery in southeast Georgia, hiring 24 people.

Plug Power, based in Latham, New York, said the Kingsland plant is one of a network planned nationwide that will use renewable-produced electricity to break apart water and create liquid hydrogen. Hydrogen can be used to fuel trucks, forklifts and other vehicles by creating electricity in fuel cells. Fuel cells don't emit climate warming carbon and can be lighter than battery-powered vehicles.

The company said the new plant will begin operating by the middle of 2022, allowing it to serve customers along the entire East Coast of the United States. Plug Power already operates a hydrogen plant in Tennessee and is building two more in Pennsylvania and New York.

Plug Power says it’s the largest buyer of liquid hydrogen worldwide and has built more hydrogen refueling stations than any other company.

The company says there is strong demand for “green hydrogen” made with renewable power. The company projects there will be 500 hydrogen refueling stations nationwide by 2024, betting that hydrogen will be a better solution for long-distance trucking that heavy battery-powered vehicles. Plug Power is also targeting forklifts, generators used for emergency power, and ships and railroad locomotives as uses that could replace diesel and natural gas.

Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said Plug Power will expand the state's "green technology ecosystem.”

The Georgia plant will have an initial capacity of 15 tons of hydrogen per day. It will use solar electricity supplied by Nahunta-based Okefenokee Rural Electric Membership Corp. Spokesperson Michele Hutchins said Plug Power would be the cooperative's largest industrial customer, consuming up to 47.5 megawatts of power. That's enough electricity to power more than 40,000 Georgia homes.

Plug Power said the location is close to Interstate 95 and will help it serve users including Home Depot and Southern Co., the Atlanta-based electric and natural gas utility.

The company will buy land from the Camden County Joint Development Authority. Executive Director James Coughlin said the authority has owned the site for 25 years and was competing with Florida for the plant. Coughlin said local governments will give property tax breaks worth a projected $6.2 million over 10 years.

Plug Power will be eligible for sales tax breaks on equipment purchases and electricity, as well as research and development tax credits.

Plug Power could also claim an income tax credit allowing it to annually deduct $3,500 per job from state income taxes, up to $420,000 over five years, as long as workers make at least $28,000 per year.

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