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Westinghouse job cuts hit Charlotte office

The V.C. Summer nuclear expansion project won’t be finished because of high costs, low demand for energy and the bankruptcy of its chief contractor, Westinghouse, which confirmed that 120 workers in Charlotte are either being furloughed or laid off.
The V.C. Summer nuclear expansion project won’t be finished because of high costs, low demand for energy and the bankruptcy of its chief contractor, Westinghouse, which confirmed that 120 workers in Charlotte are either being furloughed or laid off. The State file photo

Over 100 Westinghouse Electric workers in Charlotte are being either furloughed or laid off after construction was abandoned on a multi-billion dollar nuclear project in South Carolina.

Westinghouse spokeswoman Sarah Cassella said 120 workers in Charlotte have received Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notices, which are required by federal law when companies make mass layoffs, close plants and change ownership. “Not everyone who has received a WARN letter has been laid off,” Cassella said.

Pennsylvania-based Westinghouse, the U.S. nuclear unit of Japan’s Toshiba Corp., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March. The manufacturer had been the chief contractor building two reactors at the V.C. Summer power plant, northwest of Columbia.

Two utilities, South Carolina Electric and Gas and its partner Santee Cooper, halted construction on the V.C. Summer nuclear project because of high costs, low demand for energy and Westinghouse’s bankruptcy, Columbia’s State newspaper reported.

Also as a result of the abandoned construction, Westinghouse is furloughing 113 workers in Rock Hill, and another 561 in Jenkinsville, which is about an hour and 45 minutes southwest of Charlotte. In total, about 870 workers are being furloughed as a result of the halted work at V.C. Summer.

Cassella said that if affected workers receive no other assignment by Aug. 31, they will be “separated from the company.” Cassella declined to comment further.

SCANA, a utility that serves the Carolinas and Georgia, has a 55 percent stake in the two nuclear reactors Westinghouse was in charge of building at the V.C. Summer plant. State-owned Santee Cooper owns the other 45 percent. The decision by the two utilities to abandon construction of the reactors would cost S.C. consumers billions of dollars still.

Westinghouse Electric relocated last fall from its uptown offices into the Lakepointe Corporate Center, near Charlotte Douglas International Airport, after buying the nuclear firm CB&I Stone & Webster Inc. Westinghouse employs roughly 500 people in Charlotte.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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