The GeoSpring team assembles the first GeoSpring hybrid water heaters to come off the line in the new Louisville, Ky., manufacturing facility. Photo credit: Kelly Faloon/Plumbing & Mechanical.

Recently I attended a “first-off-the-line” event at Louisville, Ky.-based GE Appliances. The event celebrated the launch of GE’s new Energy Star-qualified GeoSpring hybrid water heater. The new 50-gallon GeoSpring is an upgrade from the 2009 original - it combines heat-pump technology with conventional electric heating systems found in modern water heaters, reduces energy consumption by 62% from conventional electric water heaters, and can save the average consumer $325 each year, according toSteve Downer, GE product general manager, water products.

Downer and members of the GeoSpring team talked to reporters the day before the factory event to explain the lean manufacturing concepts used to open theGeoSpring manufacturing facility, which is the first to open at Appliance Park in 50 years. The $38 million investment in GeoSpring is part of GE’s total $1 billion commitment to the GE Appliances’ business, as well as the creation of 1,300 new jobs in the United States by 2014. For the GeoSpring, 100 hourly jobs were added as well as 10 salaried employees.