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Big manufacturer takes stake in ReliOn

Global manufacturer Cummins Inc. has invested in Spokane fuel cell company ReliOn, the two companies announced Thursday.

Cummins is a global manufacturer of engines and trucks. The division forming the partnership is Cummins Power, which makes and services industrial diesel and natural gas power generators.

Cummins does not currently make hydrogen fuel cells, the primary product ReliOn continues to develop.

Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

Spokeswoman Sandra Saathoff said the Cummins investment did not involve stock. Cummins received a stake in privately held ReliOn, which was originally a subsidiary of Avista Corp. before it evolved into a stand-alone company.

Cummins received a seat on ReliOn’s five-person board of directors.

A news release said the partnership will use Cummins’ size and industry connections to “increase ReliOn’s capabilities to drive costs down and increase distribution of our fuel cell products.”

Most of ReliOn’s fuel cells are sold to telecommunications companies. A large number are installed as power backups for cellphone towers or at microwave antenna stations.

ReliOn does not release annual sales, Saathoff said.

The deal evolved from the two companies rubbing shoulders at trade shows and power industry events, and the overture to invest in ReliOn started with Cummins, Saathoff said.

ReliOn has received several investments since its incorporation in 2004, but this is the first investment by a company that also sells power products, she said.

 ReliOn fuel cells are operating at roughly 1,600 customer sites, the release said.

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