Bevill State retraining Gorgas workers

By ED HOWELL
Posted 2/17/19

In the aftermath of statements by a Bevill State Community College official on Thursday, a college spokesperson confirmed Alabama Power's Gorgas Steam Plant is shutting down and that the college is …

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Bevill State retraining Gorgas workers

Posted

In the aftermath of statements by a Bevill State Community College official on Thursday, a college spokesperson confirmed Alabama Power's Gorgas Steam Plant is shutting down and that the college is helping to retrain its workers. 

Alabama Power has essentially denied for months widespread rumors that the Gorgas Steam Plant is about to close. "At this time Alabama Power has no plans to close any generating units at any of our plants," Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman emailed as a public statement to the Daily Mountain Eagle on Nov. 14. 

Al Moore, dean of workforce solutions and economic development for Bevill State, spoke at a meeting Thursday between Appalachian Regional Commission officials and community and Bevill State officials. An audio tape of the meeting was provided to the Daily Mountain Eagle by the college the day after the meeting.

"Alabama Power has been a key partner," Moore said on the tape. "Many of you from the community know two very large coal firing plants are about 15 to 20 minutes from this site. With that, one of them, which is the oldest, is about to shudder. With that, they have been transitioning many of their workers to different locations. 

"For a few months now, several months now, we have been working to help retrain some of those folks who are going to be seeking other employment opportunities because they are both coal burning facilities. The one, they have issues with the EPA regs. They couldn't meet the regs in time, and the plant is so old the cost would have been astronomical for them to convert it to gasification. So that has been an issue. So we have been working with them about some training for some of those folks who are going to be dislocated." 

Tana Collins, the college's director of public relations, said Saturday the two Alabama Power facilities being referred to by Moore were Gorgas and the Miller plants, and that Gorgas is the one scheduled to close. 

Alabama Power spokesmen could not be reached for comment Saturday afternoon. 

Company statistics provided in 2014 show the Gorgas plant at that time employed 300, had a payroll of $18 million and paid more than $3 million in taxes to Walker County in 2013.