Drive N.C. 115 a mile south of downtown Huntersville, and there's no mistaking the town's latest landmark: a concrete tower soaring the equivalent of 1 1/2 football fields into the air.
ABB Group reached a major construction milestone recently when it completed the exterior structure of the 430-foot tower.
The tower is near the back of ABB's planned $90 million plant in Commerce Station business park.
The planned 250,000-square-foot plant is hiring 100 engineers and other workers to make high-voltage, underground electrical cables to extend the U.S. power grid.
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The factory will begin production in late 2012.
The tower is the heart of the plant's operation, company officials said in announcing its completion.
Cable will be formed at high temperatures in the tower and then cooled.
It took 60,000 worker hours to build the tower, and the job was completed injury-free, said Prentis Trickett, the plant's manager.
ABB is a Swiss company that provides transmission and distribution equipment and technology for power grids worldwide.
ABB operates in about 100 countries and employs 124,000 people, including 1,500 in North Carolina.
Its North American headquarters are in Cary.
The high-voltage and extra-high-voltage cables that will be made in Huntersville are in growing use to send electricity long distances from solar, wind and other renewable-energy sources, ABB officials have said.
ABB's Huntersville jobs will pay an average of $64,008 a year, higher than Mecklenburg County's $48,776 average, ABB officials said.
The jobs will include a 50-50 mix of manufacturing workers and engineers, officials said.