NGS workers aim to `Finish Strong'

As the power plant nears the end of its operations workers are encouraged to go strong to the end.

PAGE – The Navajo Generating Station’s newest logo is based on the Navajo Nation seal and it encourages its 520 plant workers to finish strong.
“It’s not truly the Navajo seal but it does represent the Navajo seal,” said Joe Frazier, manager of NGS in LeChee, Arizona. “The arrowheads represent the number of years (43) this place has been in service. You can see (the hardhats of) six workers in there that are arm in arm encircling NGS.”
Frazier says that is the logo to finish strong as the five power plant owners – Arizona Public Service, Bureau of Reclamation, NV Energy, Salt River Project, and Tucson Electric Power – are planning to close it by Dec. 22, 2019, a move that could leave hundreds of NGS and Peabody Western Coal’s Kayenta Mine workers without work.
“We can keep the lights on through 2019,” Frazier said, “then we have five years to shut it down or decommission it.”     
During the business conference at the Courtyard by Marriott early last week, Frazier gave an update on the plant and showed the “finish strong” logo, which he says is a testament to the work and safety ethic that plant workers have done so and to do so every day.
Last year, 2017, was a year of uncertainty, said Frazier. And NGS workers were asked to finish strong. Today, decommissioning efforts are underway, but the plant needs to be staffed appropriately with personnel through 2019.
“The bottom line is that it takes around 500 people to run those units,” Frazier said as he explained the redeployment phase of the plant personnel. “All of our NGS employees out there, they will receive a job offer …. They don’t have to accept it, but they will be given an offer.”
Frazier says that all regular employees will be provided with an opportunity to redeploy within SRP.
“We also provide NGS employees with the benefit and financial information to help them make (the choice of either staying with the company or retiring),” he explained, “or moving on to something else. So, we’ll help them do that.”
Frazier says this means that there is a new world of possibilities for plant workers’ careers.
So, SRP is partnering with a handful of career placement agencies such as Coconino County Rapid Response, a pre-layoff and reduction in force assistance program; Navajo Nation Department of Personnel Management, and jobs within APS and Tucson Electric Power.
“We run some 520 personnel (362 are regular plant workers; 49 are either provisional or temporary),” Frazier explained. “There’s 262 out there that have not received a job yet.  All 362 will receive a job offer. The rest will probably move on to something else or retire.”
Last year the owners of the plant announced that it was no longer financially viable to keep NGS going and that it would close. Peabody Energy commenced a campaign to keep the plant open, hiring investment banker Lazard to find a new owner.
“We are working with new owners,” Frazier said. “The Navajo Nation’s working with new owners, but there has not been an offer on the table yet. There are two interested companies out there that are pretty serious as far as their efforts in trying to make it work.”
He added, “We’re giving them all the information they need on how to run a plant to what costs to run a plant, and how many people it takes to operate it and so forth. (But) there is no offer, (however) there is still a shot out there that something may happen.”


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