GE Will Close Georgia Plant; 200 Jobs at Stake

GE Renewable Energy has confirmed the company will close its GE Grid Solutions manufacturing plant in Waynesboro, Georgia, with the 200 workers at the facility offered the chance to relocate to a similar site in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, or apply for other jobs within the company.

The plant is expected to close by year-end 2020. The plant was built in 1991 by German firm Ritz Messwander, and GE acquired it from French firm Alstom as part of a $10.6 billion purchase of Alstom’s electric power business in 2015.

GE earlier this year announced it would integrate its grid solutions, energy storage, and renewables assets into a single business, doubling the size of its Renewable Energy division. The company has been restructuring due to financial problems related to its acquisition of Alstom’s Power and Grid business, and a global downturn in the market for gas turbines. GE in November 2018 announced the reorganization of its Power division into two businesses, forming GE Gas Power, comprised of Gas Power Systems and Power Services, and GE Power Portfolio, comprised of the Steam, Grid Solutions, Nuclear, and Power Conversion businesses.

The company has cut thousands of jobs worldwide over the past few years, including layoffs of some Alstom staff in France. GE in December 2017 announced it would cut 12,000 jobs in its power unit.

Economic Development Officials Pledge to Help Workers

GE in a Nov. 13 statement about the Waynesboro closure said, “Based on the current competitive market conditions, GE Renewable Energy has made the difficult decision to combine our U.S. High Voltage Switchgear (HVS) manufacturing into one U.S. location in Pennsylvania. This decision will result in the closure of our Waynesboro manufacturing plant toward the end of 2020. This is a difficult decision that does not reflect on our employees’ performance, dedication, and hard work. GE will be providing a comprehensive severance package to employees, including transition support to new employment.”

Local economic development officials said they also would work with employees to help them find new jobs. Waynesboro also is home to Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear power plant expansion, the state’s largest ongoing construction project, where two new reactors are being added to two existing units. Georgia Power has said it has about 8,000 workers at the construction site, and more than 800 permanent jobs will be available once the two new reactors come online.

Georgia Power in October said the last major module needed for the plant’s construction had arrived onsite. Modules have been regularly delivered to the site over the past several years. Fuel loading of the two new units at Vogtle could begin as early as next year.

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).