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Cheektowaga manufacturer Niagara Transformer Corp. received a big present from New York State Electric & Gas on Tuesday, and it wasn’t an electricity bill.

NYSEG, the Binghamton-based utility that is owned by Spanish energy giant Iberdrola S.A., awarded a $500,000 economic development grant to Niagara Transformer to finance the electrical infrastructure investments for the company’s new 48,000-square-foot transformer test facility, located on Dale Road next to its headquarters.

Workers at that $15 million facility also are finishing up work on a new $300,000 transformer unit that NYSEG is buying for installation at its Auburn substation in Central New York.

Niagara Transformer, a third-generation family-owned firm whose roots date to 1925, makes about 250 transformer units each year that are sold in 80 countries around the world. The company, which started as a transformer and electrical repair firm, began making small units in 1933 before producing and selling its first large transformer in 1943 – to NYSEG.

The company employs about 100 at its operations in Cheektowaga, and president John F. Darby said the company is now seeking to hire more workers in high-paid, high-tech positions.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com