Last week, we reported on the agreement GE Hitachi made with North Carolina to hire 900 more workers, retain their current staff of about 2300 and spend over $700 million expanding their corporate headquarters - which presumably they'd have to do to fit in 900 more bodies.
Later that same day, GE Hitachi indicated some of what they are going to do with those hires and that money:
Global Laser Enrichment (GLE), a subsidiary of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), has announced it has selected GEH's Wilmington headquarters site for a potential commercial uranium enrichment facility. The planned GEH plant would result in the creation of hundreds of new technical, operational and support jobs at the site between now and 2012.
"Hundreds," here, is not the full 900 touted by the state, but it's a good start. The uranium enrichment facility is described thusly:
The cutting-edge laser enrichment isotope separation technology allows GEH to become further integrated in the nuclear fuel cycle; already, Wilmington-based Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas, a joint venture of GE, Hitachi and Toshiba, is involved in the fuel cycle. [Global Nuclear Fuel's] site currently receives low enriched uranium, which is then used to fabricate fuel bundles for commercial nuclear power plants. The commercial GLE enrichment facility could potentially become a supplier of low enriched uranium to the Wilmington GNF fabrication facility.
Note that this Wilmington is in North Carolina - yes, GE Hitachi headquarters - not Delaware.
Feels a bit like GE Hitachi has subsidiaries to keep other subsidiaries busy supplying materials to yet other subsidiaries, the business version of a perpetual motion device. But it creates an ecosystem that gives GE Hitachi a marked competitive advantage even while they wager on the efficacy of nuclear energy going forward. Pretty safe bet, we'd say, plus it allows a cushion for the company should it misjudge what the market needs. (GLE is currently creating a demo project to decide whether to go forward with a commercial plant.)
We've talked about the benefits of the nuclear renaissance to the economy, but it's especially pleasing to see it start to take root in communities. GE Hitachi stands to do much good in Wilmington and New Hanover County, perhaps fathering an extension of North Carolina's so-called Research Triangle in the Raleigh-Durham area to their neck of the woods, good salaries and all.
We seem to be on a bit of a GE Hitachi jag lately, and they are a member of NEI, so suspicions of log rolling acknowledged and, hey!, denied. The company has lately embodied the themes we've been tracing as nuclear energy springs back to life and has been interesting to test against those themes. So far so good, but maybe we'll see what Entergy or AREVA's been up to lately.