Luminant announces closure of Monticello plant

Luminant, a subsidiary of Vistra Energy, on Friday announced plans to retire its Monticello Power Plant in Titus County. In total, approximately 1,800 megawatts of power will be taken offline in January 2018.

Vistra Energy president and chief executive officer Curt Morgan said, “For more than 40 years, Monticello employees have generated reliable power for Texans, and we honor and recognize their service. But the market’s unprecedented low power price environment has profoundly impacted its operating revenues and no longer supports continued investment.”

Luminant estimates that approximately 200 employees will be impacted by Monticello’s retirement. Eligible and affected employees will be offered severance benefits and outplacement assistance, according to information released by the company Friday. The company will also assist employees who are interested in pursuing open positions within its fleet.

Morgan added, “This was a difficult decision made after a year of careful analysis. We are sensitive to the consequences of our decision on employees and members of the local community, with whom we have worked closely for decades.

“Luminant will be coordinating with civic leadership to prepare for the impacts of the transition.”

Titus County Judge Brian Lee said on Friday that the news did not come as a shock.

“They’ve been great partners with the county for many, many years — long before I got here and up to this very second,” Lee said. “This doesn’t come as a surprise to the county. They have done a very good job of keeping us informed, from the day I got in office we’ve had a close relationship with them. … I have no animosity nor do any of the commissioners. ...

“There are very clear factors and forces that they have had to deal with that have brought us to this point. A lot of obstacles.”

Lee spoke of the benefits the county had reaped over the course of its decades-long relationship with the operation, which has included jobs, land sales and a significant impact on the tax base.

“It’s been a great thing but great things don’t last forever. … Really, all I’m thinking about at this point are the employees that are left and the decisions they’ll be facing in the days ahead.”

As part of the retirement process, Luminant filed a notice with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) that will trigger a reliability review, company officials said.

If ERCOT determines the units are not needed for reliability following this 60-day review, Luminant expects to stop plant operations on Jan. 4.

Luminant will take the necessary steps to responsibly decommission the facility in accordance with all federal and state regulations, according to information released by the company Friday, as well as continue ongoing reclamation work at the plant’s mines, which ceased active operations in the spring of 2016.

Vistra estimates it will record one-time charges of approximately $20-25 million in the third quarter of 2017 related to the retirement, including employee-related severance costs and non-cash charges for materials inventory and the acceleration of Luminant’s mining reclamation obligations.

Mount Pleasant Tribune

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