General Electric chief executive officer Jeffrey Immelt said Tuesday the company is interested in Clemson University's future offshore wind turbine lab in North Charleston, but he stopped short of saying whether it plans to build a manufacturing plant there someday.
"I would say that we're quite interested in the North Charleston facility," Immelt told reporters before speaking to state business leaders during an energy symposium at Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research. "We just need to see how it evolves."
GE already employs 3,100 nearby at a gas turbine plant in Greenville.
Last month, the Department of Energy selected Clemson's Restoration Institute in North Charleston as the site of a new $98 million lab for large offshore wind turbines.
Speculation has grown since that announcement that GE might team up with Clemson as BMW has done in Greenville at Clemson's auto research center.
Before speaking to reporters, Immelt met at length with Clemson president James Barker and other officials who will be working on the new wind lab at the former Navy base.
Asked specifically about a future plant in North Charleston, Immelt said GE plans to work closely with Clemson and South Carolina "as it develops the site. We are long in wind energy, and you never know where that will go. We have no specific plans, but we are quite excited about what the potential can be."
Immelt said GE believes green jobs will help restore the nation's manufacturing sector, adding that he sees "some room for optimism" about an economic recovery next year.
Immelt said three things are required for the United States to become a global leader in green technology: a renewed commitment to technology, public policy that encourages investment in such technology and creating jobs.