Westinghouse plans to cut jobs in Cranberry
Westinghouse Electric Co. will eliminate up to 660 jobs worldwide in the coming weeks, including some at its Cranberry headquarters, because of a global slowdown for nuclear power reactors.
The cuts underscore the difficult environment for the industry with the rise of natural gas as a cheaper source of energy and concerns about public safety after a powerful earthquake and tsunami caused the meltdown of reactors in Japan in 2011.
“The market we serve has been affected by the incident at Fukushima and the global economic slowdown, so in some markets, our business has flattened,” said Westinghouse spokesman Vaughn Gilbert.
Gilbert declined to say on Wednesday how many positions would be cut at the sprawling campus in Cranberry, where nuclear reactors and related components are engineered, and at other facilities in the Pittsburgh region.
Westinghouse employs about 6,000 people locally, including 4,300 in Cranberry.
The cuts would be made through a combination of layoffs and attrition, Gilbert said. He did not have a breakdown or the types of jobs that will be eliminated. Many of the positions in Cranberry are high-paying technical jobs.
Westinghouse had been on a hiring binge in the last five years, mainly to develop its new generation AP1000 nuclear reactor and to meet the growing demand for nuclear energy, especially in China.
But the economic advantage of natural gas power plants and changing attitudes about nuclear power safety since the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi complex in northern Japan have dampened demand for new orders.
In the nearly two years since the plant meltdown, governments in Japan, Germany and France have begun to scale back nuclear power, industry experts say.
“There has been an impact globally from Fukushima, raising additional concerns about nuclear safety,” said Carol Werner, executive director of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, an education and science policy organization in Washington.
The reactors at Fukushima were not Westinghouse designs, but were supplied by General Electric Co., Hitachi and Toshiba, which is Westinghouse's majority owner with an 87 percent stake.
Werner cited the sluggish global economy and utilities' extending their power plants' operating lifetimes up to 20 years as additional pressure placed on the industry.
“But the biggest influence has been natural gas,” she said. “For any utility looking at building a new nuclear plant, the costs have escalated, while at the same time, natural gas (power plants) come in faster and cheaper.”
Gilbert said he did not have a figure on how much money the company intended to save from the job cuts, which amounted to 5 percent of its 13,300-person global workforce.
“The goal is to ensure we have the proper cost structure in place to meet the needs of the industry,” he said.
Westinghouse relocated its headquarters from Monroeville to a four-building Cranberry complex in 2009. Most workers there are nuclear, electrical or mechanical engineers, and the remainder hold administrative positions in the finance, purchasing and legal departments.
The company has nuclear fueling, servicing and related operations in Churchill, Madison, Blairsville and New Stanton.
Westinghouse is building four of its new generation AP1000 nuclear reactors in China, the first of which is expected to go into operation in 2014. The company is in the earlier stages of building two AP1000s in Georgia and two in South Carolina.
Gilbert said Westinghouse had hired about 5,000 workers in the last five years and that the coming job reductions were the “result of an ongoing analysis.”
Cranberry Manager Jerry Andree he didn't know how many people would be affected at the Cranberry offices and hadn't talked to Westinghouse officials.
“I'm sure it's part of their necessary adjustments to the marketplace,” Andree said.
Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached a 412-320-7854 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Concurrent Technologies focuses on developing batteries for renewable energy, electric cars
- Oil glut forces producers to seek out more storage tanks
- Impact fees garner support from state community leaders
- Trade deals good way to add jobs, CEOs say
- Company proposes building 2 gas-fired power plants in West Virginia
- Foreign central banks buck Fed, cut interest rates
- Markets ‘flutter’ day after records
- Auto industry slows for bad weather, but stays on course
- Profit increases 12% at Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Oakland firm Qualaris Healthcare’s software saves time in hospitals
- Mud serves as multipurpose tool in $100B shale industry