GE's (GE) Consumer & Industrial division announced that it will manufacture highly energy efficient hybrid electric water heaters in Louisville, Kentucky, at the company's Appliance Park facility - creating about 400 jobs.
The new hybrid patented technology will make GE the first manufacturer to introduce a water heater that will meet the new 2009 Department of Energy ENERGY STAR standards for heat pump hot water heaters, putting GE well ahead of the competition.
The decision to locate production of this leadership product in Louisville came as a result of cooperative efforts, investments and incentives involving GE, the IUE-CWA, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and Louisville Metro government. GE's planned manufacturing facility also has a potential to create 1,600 incremental "green" jobs over time for suppliers and contract partners and generate other positive financial impacts in Louisville and nationwide.
"We made the decision to build these products in Louisville because of the strong support from our state and local governments and the cooperative spirit of our Union leadership and our employees at Appliance Park. This clearly indicates GE's vote of confidence in this facility and our employees as a place where we can invest in our future, continuing our 50+ year history," said GE Consumer & Industrial President and CEO James Campbell. "Leadership from Governor Steve Beshear, Mayor Jerry Abramson, IUE-CWA President Jerry Carney and many others will help rebuild America's manufacturing base, create jobs and enable innovative, energy-efficient American-made products to be competitive in the marketplace."
Up to $17 million in incentives from the state and metro government will be made available for the design and construction of the new energy-efficient hybrid electric water heater and for several other investments that the Company will make at Appliance Park over the next several years, which will total over $69 million. The state incentives, which were approved by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority on May 28, 2009, will be provided under the Kentucky Industrial Development Act (KIDA). Kentucky also will provide funds to train employees for the new jobs and will exempt from sales tax certain materials purchased to construct new facilities. And in Louisville, the Metro Council has approved an ordinance proposed by Mayor Jerry Abramson that will provide the city's portion of the incentive package.
"We understood that GE had other U.S. locations where the company could make the new hybrid water heater," said Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. "But the company - like others around the country - knew that Kentucky has made energy-related development one of our highest priorities. The nation's energy needs are growing, yet it wants that energy to be clean and green. In Kentucky we see that as an economic opportunity."
Producing the hybrid electric water heater in Louisville, starting in the second half of 2011, was also made possible by a May 27 vote by GE's local IUE-CWA union membership that demonstrated a spirit of cooperation and lowered labor costs to the level GE needed to competitively produce its new innovative water heater. The union and employees approved a wage freeze until the current labor contract ends in 2011 and the implementation of new wage rates for new hires, making the facility more competitive and attractive than other manufacturing locations that were under consideration.
"The union leadership realized we were at the brink of a major, life-altering decision for our employees and the business." said Local IUE-CWA President Jerry Carney. "Decisions like these are not easy to make but as you look around the country, you can see that employees who make the right choices to compete in this global economy, win. I am proud of the IUE Local 761's membership. GE and the IUE at Appliance Park are a winning team."
"GE has been a vital part of Louisville's economy for decades," added Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson. "We appreciate the changes that have been made at Appliance Park not only to keep jobs here, but also to add jobs. We will continue to work with the GE leadership team to help ensure the long-term future of Appliance Park."
The new hybrid electric water heater has already received tremendous interest from utility companies, and agencies that administer federal and state weatherization programs, which will become new customers for the innovative products. Conventional water heaters are the second largest energy user in the home and all home appliances make up about 85% of the home's energy consumption.
Utilities report that by providing their customers with super-efficient water heaters the utilities can better manage energy deployment and potential future power generation requirements. Some of GE's new utility customers include: Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Corporation Little Rock AR, PPL Electric Utilities Allentown PA, Gordon Williams Corporation Ontario Canada, NeighborWorks America, Community Housing Partners Corporation Christianburg VA, New Directions Housing Corporation Louisville KY, and Frontier Housing Morehead KY.
The new industry-exclusive GE Hybrid Electric Water Heater is designed to provide hot water in the quantities homeowners demand but uses only about half the energy of conventional water heaters to produce it. Based on the standard 50-gallon tank water heater that uses approximately 4800 kWh per year, the new GE Hybrid Electric Water Heater is designed to:
• Use less than half of that energy - or about 2300 kWh per year - a savings of approximately 2500 kWh per year.
• Save approximately $250 per year - that's $2,500 savings in energy costs over a 10-year period based on 10 cents per kWh.
According to the DOE (http://www.energystar.gov/), if just 10% of the nation's 4.8 million electric water heater shipments were heat pump water heaters with an Energy Factor of 2.0 instead of conventional models with an Energy Factor at the Federal standard, the aggregate energy savings would amount to nearly 1.3 billion kWh per year.
The GE Hybrid Electric Water Heater combines energy-saving heat-pump technology with traditional electric heating systems used in most conventional water heaters on the market today, without sacrificing the amount of hot water it can deliver.
This hybrid technology is designed to absorb heat in ambient air and transfer it into the water. Since this requires much less energy than the energy used to generate radiant heat - as used in a conventional electric water heater - the GE Hybrid Electric Water Heater is more economical to operate.
Federal and state tax credits for purchasing the energy efficient water heater may also be available to benefit consumers.