Luminant closing Oak Hill mine, laying off 132 workers by Dec. 16
Oct. 17, 2016 at 12:38 p.m.
Updated Oct. 17, 2016 at 12:58 p.m.
Dallas power company Luminant will lay off 132 East Texas mine workers later this year as it shutters its Oak Hill lignite mine south of Longview.
The layoffs will occur at mines in Rusk and Panola counties by Dec. 16, Luminant told the Texas Workforce Commission.
According to notices filed Friday and made public Monday by the commission, Luminant plans to lay off 28 workers at its mine administration building in Rusk County and 26 workers apiece from each of its four mines near Beckville, Tatum and Henderson.
“This has been a very difficult decision, but one that is required to continue to run the business efficiently,” Tim Bosecker, Martin Lake mines director, wrote in a letter to the commission.
As coal-fired plants have lost market share to more efficient gas-powered plants and struggled to meet environmental regulations, many Texas coal plants have been operating only during peak demand periods. That has led to less demand for coal — and for mine workers.
Luminant announced a month ago it was planning to lay off more than 100 employees and idle coal mining operations that serve its Martin Lake Power Plant, about 20 miles southeast of Longview.
“Because of the sustained low wholesale power prices, Luminant must make adjustments in its mining operations and workforce,” the company said in a statement at the time.
Because of a collective bargaining agreement, some of the job cuts are coming from mines that will remain in production as the company closes Oak Hill and consolidates staff and operations.
The idling at Oak Hill will not affect operations at the Martin Lake power plant, which will continue to operate on lignite from the two remaining mines and Powder River Basin coal that has been shipped by rail from Wyoming for years, Luminant said.
The company also plans to reclaim the 26,000-acre surface mine site, an effort likely to take several years.
Luminant also will continue to operate three other coal mines in Texas: Turlington in Freestone County, Kosse in Limestone County and Three Oaks in Lee County.
Earlier this year, the company closed three small North Texas mines — its Winfield, Monticello and Thermo mines — to make the switch from lignite to the cleaner-burning Powder River Basin coal.
At the same time, Luminant, which is the state’s largest power generator, has been shifting toward other generation sources. Early this year, it bought two major gas-fired power plants early this year, in Paris and Forney.
Luminant has struggled financially in recent years, and its parent company, Energy Future Holdings of Dallas, sought bankruptcy protection in early 2014, reporting debts of more than $40 billion. Earlier this month, Luminant and its retail electricity sibling, TXU Energy, emerged from bankruptcy under the newly created parent company TCEH Corp.