By Kathy Williams, Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, AREVA Inc.
A few weeks ago, more than 500 energy industry leaders came together at the annual Charlotte Business Journal Energy Inc. Summit in Charlotte, N.C., where AREVA served as a presenting sponsor. I was honored to have the opportunity to participate as a speaker to share my perspective on the Carolinas Energy Hub and the energy challenges and opportunities ahead of us.
As I looked around the room before the program began, I recognized that my personal and professional journeys are very connected to the Carolinas Energy hub. I was born and raised in South Carolina, and my family members worked for SCANA and Sunbelt Rentals. Several years ago, I worked for Duke Energy. And now I work for one of North America’s leading providers of utility-scale nuclear and renewable energy products and services—AREVA Inc., headquartered in Charlotte.
Throughout the Energy Inc. Summit, it was clear that Energy Hub companies such as AREVA, Duke Energy, Westinghouse, CB&I, URS, SCANA, Sunbelt Rentals, EPRI, and others are spurring regional economic growth through the generation of safe, affordable, and reliable energy in the Carolinas and beyond.
What each of our organizations do within the Energy Hub can drive global impact, and the future of the energy industry is being shaped right here in the Carolinas. For example, the two new nuclear reactors under construction at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Power Station near Jenkinsville, S.C., reflect America’s continued commitment to sustaining the world’s largest nuclear energy fleet. EPRI’s global expertise and leadership facilitates innovative research and better technology to benefit all participants in the energy industry. Because of AREVA employees’ proven commitment to safety, innovation, and operational excellence, our customers can rely on our products and services to advance the quality and performance of their nuclear power facilities around the world.
AREVA and other Energy Hub members are also investing in the future energy industry by supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in the Carolinas and throughout the United States. By 2018, the U.S. industry will have more than 1 million job openings in STEM-related fields. Yet, we are not graduating nearly enough STEM majors to meet this demand. Thirty percent of AREVA’s American workforce is eligible to retire in the next few years, which means that we must hire 175-300 early career professionals—primarily with STEM and technical backgrounds. To that end, AREVA and our Energy Hub partners continue supporting STEM initiatives, such as STEMersion, EPIC at UNC Charlotte, Project Lift, and many more.
Thanks to this innovation and collaboration in the Carolinas, growth continues and more opportunities are coming. Energy Hub partners share a commitment to further economic growth, employment, productivity and prosperity. For our part, AREVA will continue developing innovative ideas for generating clean, safe, and reliable electricity to power prosperity in the Carolinas and beyond. That’s forward-looking energy.