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Columbia Business Monthly

Meiden America Switchgear opens in Laurens County

Apr 16, 2020 03:07PM ● By David Dykes

By David Dykes

Meiden America Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based Meidensha Corp., is opening its new Meiden America Switchgear manufacturing facility in Laurens County, an $8 million investment that will create 41 jobs, according to company officials and the Upstate SC Alliance.

The company is expanding production of its high-voltage vacuum circuit breakers and the Fountain Inn facility will be its first production base in North America.

The 60,000-sqaure-foot production center at 2200 Old Laurens Road was scheduled to begin operations this month. It will manufacture equipment mainly for electric utilities in the Americas, company officials said.

The vacuum circuit breakers and vacuum interrupters address the growing demand for eco-friendly switching equipment in North America, as the incentive grows to replace aging substation equipment with environmentally friendly alternatives, without the use of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) gas, company officials said.

Regulations are being toughened across North America on the use of SF6, which is a potent greenhouse gas, the officials said. The drive to decarbonize the grid by shifting to renewable energy-based, distributed energy resources, further drives demand for Meiden’s emissions-free power distribution equipment, they said.

Meiden’s 72.5kV vacuum circuit breakers, which do not use SF6, were released in North America in 2007, and sales of Meiden’s 145kV vacuum circuit breakers will begin in the U.S. this month.  

At the core of Meiden’s vacuum circuit breakers are its vacuum interrupters, which Meiden has been manufacturing since the mid-1960s. 

The new location also will become the North American sales hub of Meiden’s vacuum interrupters.

 “We believe our new base in Laurens County, South Carolina will enable us to maintain our high standard of quality, while delivering Meiden’s world class vacuum circuit breaker and vacuum interrupter across North America,” said Meidensha Corp. Senior Managing Executive Officer Nobuaki Tamaki. “We are proud to employ the dedicated workers of this state and want to express our gratitude to the county and state personnel who worked so diligently with us to select this location.”

Laurens County Council Chairman David Pitts said the investment and job creation “are a testament that Laurens County is open for business and we welcome their commitment to our community.