Muhlenberg County ‘will survive’ after Paradise plant closes


A decision to drop coal cuts like a knife through Western Kentucky, and Muhlenberg County is bracing for what’s next.

Tennessee Valley Authority board members voted Thursday to retire the last coal fired power unit at the Paradise plant near Drakesboro.

Officials say the plant is not designed to “efficiently respond to today’s fluctuating power needs of customers.”

CEO Bill Johnson says they will work with employees and local communities to ease the transition. It plans to retire the plant by the end of 2020.

What will the power plant’s closure mean for people on the outside? Even people who don’t have a stake in the plant are worried about their futures.

On the menu at Poole’s Pharmacy in Greenville is sauerkraut. It’s not the only thing sour in Muhlenberg County.

“There’s going to be a lot of uneasiness and not sure what’s going to happen,” said Wallace Slinker.

Poole’s lunch counter is caught up in what the future holds without Paradise.

Café manager, Nora Stewart thinks it’s going to hurt the local economy. “Just really hate it for all the guys and their families that are going to be losing their jobs.”

The county’s coal production is a far cry from what it used to be, and local coal could face more hardships without a power plant to burn it.

“That’s what hurts is the trickle down,” said Elaine Sparks.

Slinker knows the feeling of TVA workers. He was laid off from Peabody coal years ago.

“When you lose your job and you got two small kids, you just kind of have to lace up your boots and get some ideas and go after something,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy for some folks.”

It’s no consolation that Poole’s expects to be okay. “It’s sad,” Stewart said. “TVA has been part of this area since I was very young.”

The people of Muhlenberg County are soured by this news, but they’ve swallowed it before. They’ll do it again and hope to be better in the end.

“We always survive,” said Sparks.

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This story was originally published on February 14, 2019

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