Muhlenberg Co. officials express shock, disappointment at TVA decision

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The Tennessee Valley Authority board voted today to close its coal fired power plant in Muhlenberg County.

In a statement TVA says, “Our decision was made after extensive reviews and public comments and will ensure continued reliable power at the lowest cost feasible. We will work with impacted employees and communities”.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin attended a rally in Muhlenberg County last weekend. He wrote to TVA CEO Bill Johnson Friday, saying such a closure would be “devastating” to the state’s economy and the effects would be felt by employees who work there, people who live in Muhlenberg and surrounding counties and coal miners.

“It’s going to reach out and touch a lot of Muhlenberg County, Central City and even farther than that,” says Central City Mayor Tony Armour. He says he suspected this day and decision would come since TVA started its combined cycle plant two years ago.

“I think when they decided to do the gas plant, I think the decision had already been made,” says Mayor Armour.

The board’s decision still left him shocked and disappointed. Mayor armour says it could impact TVA workers and others in mining and other industries in and outside the area.

“We have people here in Central City that work at the plant. We have trucking. We have a lot of people connected to Central City and outside Central City that work at the plant,” he adds.

“Any time you hear of jobs being eliminated, it’s a tough pill to swallow,” says Gary Jones of the Muhlenberg Alliance for Progress.

TVA officials say Paradise’s Fossil Unit isn’t designed to respond to today’s fluctuating power needs of customers. Jones says closing the unit could have an impact in the tens of millions of dollars in the future. State Representative Melinda Gibbons Prunty says she’s disappointed TVA couldn’t delay the decision, but hopes it doesn’t change the county’s relationship with TVA.

“I guess it might depend on what they do between now and the closure and what they do for the future,” she says.

So, what next for Muhlenberg County? Officials tell us that they’re next step is to find jobs in other sectors to replace the ones that are lost here.

“We have a nibble right now on a good industry that is looking at Muhlenberg County. Ironically, it’s the same number of jobs we’re losing at the plant,” says Jones.

“Our county is in dire need now of jobs,” adds Mayor Armour. “This is going to just push us a little farther. It just makes it tough for our people.”

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(This story was originally published on February 14, 2019)

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