GE Hitachi CEO discusses job-creating projects at panel talk
June 19, 2013By Jenny Callison
Two major projects on the horizon for GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy could spur substantial investment and growth at the Castle Hayne plant, company president and CEO Caroline Reda said Wednesday.
Reda, speaking at Greater Wilmington Business Journal’s Power Breakfast, provided some details about GE Hitachi’s selection by Dominion Virginia Power to provide site-specific design for a proposed third reactor at the utility company’s North Anna nuclear power station.
In addition to doing design work, GE Hitachi is helping Dominion with its application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a combined operating license (COL) for the reactor.
Reda said that her company has begun hiring dozens of engineers and project managers to support the Dominion project.
If it receives COL approval, Dominion will decide whether to move ahead with construction. If it proceeds, GE Hitachi has the contract for engineering and would hire additional professionals for that phase of the project.
As part of her remarks at the breakfast, Reda also said that if GE Hitachi decides to build its proposed Global Laser Enrichment facility in the area – a decision expected within the next few months – the project would represent the “biggest single investment in GE-Hitachi history. Nuclear is a capital-intensive business,” she said.
Such an initiative would be “a big breakthrough for the U.S.,” Reda said. Currently, the U.S. imports the great majority of its enriched uranium. GE Hitachi is still weighing the cost-effectiveness and commercial viability of laser enrichment technology.
Construction and operation of the laser enrichment plant in Castle Hayne, Reda said, would bring “more than hundreds” of jobs to the Cape Fear area.
On the dais with Reda on Wednesday were Gary Miller, chancellor of University of North Carolina Wilmington; David Simmons, chairman and CEO of PPD; and Ted Spring, president of Cape Fear Community College. The four recounted opportunities and challenges they face as relatively new leaders of large organizations in Wilmington.
Miller spoke of the need to find efficiencies in university operations, especially in an era of continuing budget cuts, which he compared to “a slow-moving tsunami.” He also detailed the challenges of adapting to a changing educational landscape while retaining the best qualities of higher education.
Simmons highlighted a major problem facing the pharmaceutical industry: how to decrease the time and costs involved in drug research and development.
“Research productivity is strained,” he said, explaining that commercial returns often do not cover the costs of developing a drug.
Spring’s attention is focused on CFCC’s building projects, including ensuring that funds are available to construct a planned emerging technologies building at the North Campus. He said that the college was also holding listening sessions among students, faculty and staff to generate ideas on how the institution should move forward and improve its customer service, communications and marketing and technological support.