After touring Voith Hydro Inc. on Friday, Sen. Pat Toomey called the plant a fascinating facility and an important source for jobs in York County.
The plant, at 760 E. Berlin Road in West Manchester Township, manufactures hydropower turbines and generation equipment.
Toomey said he is impressed with the "grade of work being done, the sophistication of processes."
The senator said that he understands Voith is reducing its workforce as the demand for new projects is slowing down. He said he plans to determine what federal policies or legislation would increase demand and, in turn, employment at Voith.
The federal government also could influence the World Bank to finance projects, Toomey said.
However, the main thing the federal government needs to do is review its regulation policy to find ways to streamline the multi-year licensing process for hydropower projects, he said. The process holds up projects, which hurts the companies involved and helps lead to layoffs, Toomey added.
Kevin Frank, Voith's chief executive officer and president, said that the company now has more than 700 employees, which is minus the 90 people who are leaving through layoffs and early retirements.
About four years ago, Voith ramped up its workforce to complete large projects in Ohio and at the Holtwood dam along the Susquehanna River, he said.
The company is now seeing business "return to normal levels" as the demand for new projects slows down, according to Frank.
He said the cheaper price of natural gas and licensing process for hydropower projects are obstacles in a competitive market, he said.
Frank said the licensing process takes well over five years and could turn into a 15-year process because it involves many agencies, including those responsible for protecting the environment.
A hydropower license is required to build a new dam or work on an existing dam.
While Voith doesn't want to "short-circuit" the licensing process, regulatory requirements needs to be streamlined so the company can get projects done and provide jobs in the county, he said.
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