Abandoned New Year’s resolutions are ubiquitous at this point in a year, but for Framatome—formerly AREVA—the months since the company’s rebranding on January 4 have entailed increased resolve and dedication to restoring the company to financial health. The nuclear energy firm has undergone many changes over the years—both in name and ownership—but this rebranding marks a return to the former AREVA’s roots and, thus, a kind of rebirth.
Framatome was originally established in 1958 by several French and American businesses focused on pressurized water reactors, and by 1975 the company was the sole provider of nuclear power plants in France. In 1989, the Framatome Group purchased half interest in Babcock & Wilcox Company’s Lynchburg-based nuclear services division and created a jointly-owned subsidiary named B&W Nuclear Services. This subsidiary ultimately became Framatome Technologies in 1995. In 2001, the AREVA Group formed alongside a new iteration of Framatome Technologies (Framatome ANP), and AREVA acquired Framatome in 2006. After announcing a significant financial deficit in 2015, the company set a plan in motion to restore financial health. Rebranding as Framatome is a major part of that restoration.
“The sale of AREVA NP to EDF (a French power utility) and its renaming as Framatome are part of our global transformation strategy designed to strengthen our competitive standing, financial performance and organizational structure,” says Gary Mignogna, President and CEO of Framatome, Inc. “EDF has a 75.5 percent stake in Framatome, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has a 19.5 percent stake and Assystem has a five percent stake. As a result of this global transformation and the commitment of our people, Framatome is a financially sound and forward-looking company that is well positioned to service and fuel today’s fleet and advance nuclear energy.”
Mignogna is pleased with the strides Framatome has made since rebranding. “We are already off to a strong start,” he says. “In mid-January, we signed an agreement that outlined our intent to purchase Schneider Electric’s nuclear instrumentation and control offering. This acquisition expands our offerings of instrumentation and control systems, which serve as the central nervous system of a nuclear power plant and allow operators to control reactor operations.”
Framatome has also launched a joint venture, Enfission, with Reston-based nuclear energy firm Lightbridge. Enfission will focus on advancing and commercializing Lightbridge’s innovative fuel technology, which is designed to significantly improve the economics and safety of existing and new nuclear power plants.
Additionally, Framatome will continue its relationship with NuScale as their exclusive provider for fuel design and related testing services. The NuScale small modular reactor is an advanced light-water reactor with self-contained NuScale Power ModulesTM that operate independently within a multi-module configuration. Up to 12 modules can be monitored and operated from a single control room.
“These exciting business opportunities build on our success from 2017 and position us for continued growth throughout 2018,” Mignogna notes.
Despite the many changes over the years, including those made this year, Framatome will retain the same dedicated employees. “Regardless of our name and changes over the years, we are the same experienced, knowledgeable and passionate people,” says Mignogna. “Our team is committed to serving our customers and advancing the nuclear energy industry.”
Framatome will also continue to operate from its three Lynchburg locations on Old Forest Road, Mt. Athos Road and Mill Ridge Road. Framatome added the Technical Training Center to the Mill Ridge Road facility in 2003 and expanded it in 2014, and more than 47,000 technicians, students and utility customers have received training there.
The Mill Ridge Road facility also houses the nuclear energy industry’s first outage control center, where customers’ outage operations are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, during outage season. “Connecting customers to our field teams and engineering expertise provides real-time data exchange that ensures flawless execution during outage season,” Mignogna says.
In 2012, the company opened the U.S. Technical Center as part of its Solutions Complex located on Mt. Athos Road. The U.S. Technical Center offers the largest and most comprehensive testing capabilities in North America for the nuclear energy industry. The Solutions Complex also houses Framatome’s 60,000-square-foot Pump and Motor Service Center, which offers the resources and expertise to inspect, repair and refurbish all designs of primary and auxiliary pumps, motors and seals.
Mignogna believes Lynchburg is an ideal home for Framatome for several reasons. “Lynchburg is a thriving place for business and is a hub for the nuclear energy industry,” he says. “It is home to 1,300 members of our North American team and offers us access to a talented and dedicated workforce. Our employees here also have a great quality of life with access to high-quality academic institutions and a robust cultural center, particularly with the revitalization of downtown Lynchburg.”
In addition to serving customers and advancing the nuclear energy industry in Lynchburg and beyond, Framatome also remains dedicated to giving back to the community and supporting other community organizations. “We remain committed to the Lynchburg area, supporting growth of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education opportunities for our local youth, as well as charitable organizations that provide critical services to our neighbors in need,” Mignogna says. “Additionally, Framatome continues its support of organizations that enrich the culture of our community, such as the Academy Center of the Arts, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest and the Lynchburg Symphony. Patronage in these areas improves overall quality of life, helping us to attract and retain highly skilled and talented employees who are the heart of our company.”
Before the rebranding, AREVA was involved in many philanthropic efforts such as the United Way Day of Caring, K-12 outreach, and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, and Framatome will continue to participate in these and other efforts. “Just last year in North America, our company and hundreds of our employees contributed 2,000 hours of community service, directly benefiting nearly 410 organizations and thousands of individuals in our communities,” Mignogna says.
As Framatome forges a new path while also staying true to its roots, Mignogna is both optimistic about the road ahead and mindful of potential challenges. “It is exciting to bring back the Framatome name,” he says. “It is a well-known brand in our industry that inspires respect and allows us to embrace our heritage while moving forward as a stronger company. At the same time, we must maintain our focus on the effort and commitment that allowed us to achieve this important milestone.”
“I see opportunities for us to build on both the heritage of our company and our reputation as a leader in the nuclear energy industry,” Mignogna adds. “As our company and industry continue to evolve, we aim to be the leading supplier for the nuclear energy industry, focused on servicing and fueling today’s fleet and advancing the future of nuclear energy.”