A new gas turbine manufacturing facility in North Carolina represents a strong statement that Siemens is committed to the natural gas market, the US manufacturing sector and the modernization of US electricity infrastructure, a company executive said.

Director of operations at the newly expanded Charlotte facility Mark Pringle was brimming with facts and figures about the company’s plant when he spoke to Breaking Energy this week following the grand opening of the new plant on November 16. The plant was completed in roughly a year after a groundbreaking in October 2010.

“When we started this, people felt we wouldn’t be able to do it,” Pringle said. Meeting the ambitious start-up deadline had been part of a “great journey,” he said.

Siemens has invested $350 million in the new facility, adding 450,000 square feet and roughly 1,000 jobs on an aggressive development timeline that will see a fully operational plant in spring 2012. The project will complete Siemens’ Charlotte Energy Hub, which the company says will “provide the engineering, manufacturing, servicing and other support functions related to the supply of Siemens’ highly efficient gas and steam turbines and generators to markets around the world.”

Some of the first turbines leaving the plant, and currently being prepared for shipping, are headed abroad, heralding an unexpected resurgence in US manufacturing capability. The new turbines are being exported to Sonora State in Mexico for a 250 MW facility for Grupo Mexico, and representatives from that firm joined Siemens at the November grand opening.

Exports will be shipped first via rail to ports that include Norfolk, Virginia and Houston, Texas, Pringle said.

Overcoming the challenges to building the new facility and delivering the first turbine are testament to the capacity of the US workforce to meet and exceed international standards, Pringle told Breaking Energy. Siemens has been hiring from the region to meet new demand and staff the plant, and the total number hours worked will hit a staggering one million total as the new plant comes online, adding to the 600,000 working hours already put in at the pre-existing facility.