PhillyDeals: Shutdown delays OK of energy deal

Krishna Singh is a big name in nanotechnology.
Krishna Singh is a big name in nanotechnology.
Posted: October 08, 2013

Krishna Singh had hoped to know last week whether the federal Department of Energy had picked his company, Holtec International  in Marlton, for federal financing to help build a new line of nuclear power plants.

Holtec has been competing with Westinghouse, of Pittsburgh, and the Texas company Fluor Corp.

But the government shutdown has delayed the feds' decision, says Pierre P. Oneid, chief nuclear officer at Holtec, which builds solar, nuclear, and fossil-fuel power equipment at its own Pittsburgh-area plant.

Singh, a part-owner of The Inquirer, was in West Philly on Friday to be honored by the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his engineering doctorate, as the $20 million lead donor for Penn's new $80 million Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology.

Singh called the building a sign of humanity's growing faith in technology. Penn engineering dean Eduardo Glandt said it "separated the men from the boys" among nanotech programs, where scholars work on very small biotech, energy, and computing devices. Two dozen students in clean-room suits and hair nets danced down the sunlit lobby stairs to percussive techno pop.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley stood with Singh's family. Singh, who, like Haley, has roots in northwest India, is "an old friend," she said. He's also a potential big employer in her state, where South Carolina Electric & Gas has agreed to manage Holtec nuclear plants.

Nearby stood William Levis, president of PSEG Power, which in September signed an agreement to help finance and use Holtec's new reactors.

Levis said his company had applied for permits that could one day bring Holtec SMR-160s nuclear reactors to PSEG's Salem nuclear station on Delaware Bay.

Oneid said Holtec, which has boosted sales to U.S. and foreign utilities to $500 million this year from less than $100 million a decade ago, will hire "up to 500 people right away," and eventually thousands, in South Jersey, Western Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, if DOE speeds the project.

Oneid noted tremendous support from Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Reps. Jon Runyan (R., N.J.) and Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), displaying a bipartisan spirit lately absent elsewhere in Congress.

Western Pennsylvania reps are lobbying for Westinghouse, a unit of Japan's Toshiba.

Now hiring

ISS World, based in Denmark, bosses more than 500,000 mall, hospital, and office center staff, cleaners to technicians for companies like Barclays, Heinz, Sony, and Citigroup. Chief executive Jeff Gravenhorst was at the Convention Center last week for the International Facility Management Association conclave. He stopped by the newsroom to talk about a world hungry for work.

On Aramark chairman Joseph Neubauer: "To me he's a hero. They run a good ship. Joe and I meet quite regularly for dinner when I'm in New York. We'll go somewhere Italian."

On hiring vs. contracting: "American facilities managers like SMG [based in Conshohocken] hire contractors. We believe in self-delivery of services. When they're your people, you get less turnover, and better quality of delivery."

Worker rights: "We give you a title. We'll give you a uniform, so you have pride. Then we encourage you to unionize. It's better for you, as a low-paid citizen, to organize, to make sure we treat you the right way."

How Philly compares: "We brought about 60 people to Loews and the Marriott. The service here, it's all-American. The service attitude of America, to be honest, we're copying."

On U.S. expansion: "I would love to buy Aramark. But I think it's too big."

Joseph N. DiStefano



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