Luminant closing Freestone, Milam power plants
Luminant announced last week that it will close, for economic reasons, two coal-fueled, two-unit power plants in Central Texas: Big Brown Power Plant in Freestone County, and the Sandow Power Plant in Milam County.
Big Brown is scheduled to close Feb. 12, 2018, with about 200 employees expected to lose their jobs. The plant’s associated Turlington Mine was already scheduled for closing by the end of 2017.
Whether the job losses will affect Limestone County economically is unclear, but Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen said it might impact Limestone indirectly.
“That’s our neighbors,” Burkeen said Tuesday, “and I don’t know how many people from Limestone County work over there, but Freestone County people come to Mexia to go shopping. We have to say, our economies are intermingled, so it’s not a good thing for us; it’s not a good thing for the region.”
Both power plants, said Vistra Energy, which is Luminant’s parent company, are economically challenged, which it attributes to low wholesale power prices, low gas prices and a renewable market that is oversupplied, as well as other factors.
Regarding Big Brown, Vistra noted in a press release on Oct. 13 that the facility had made operational adjustments in the past year to try to remain financially viable.
“However, despite these best efforts, the economics of operating Big Brown do not make it a sustainable option for our fleet,” Vistra said. “The company will explore a sales process for the site during the ERCOT notification period.”
If someone buys Big Brown, there is a chance it could remain open, but that would be up to the new buyer, said Meranda Cohn, corporate spokesperson for Vistra Energy and Luminant. She noted that there is a potential buyer for Big Brown, but she was not at liberty to say who that was.
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