Job cuts possible at Brunner Island

David Weissman

Talen Energy is looking to reduce jobs at three plants, including Brunner Island, according to a union representative.

Brunner Island Power Plant, shown in an aerial shot, was the third-largest source of nitrogen oxide in the state in 2011. The coal-burning plant doesn't have reduction controls in place for the pollution and soon may become the state's largest smog contributor.

Steve Knoebel, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1600, said Talen Energy contacted the union a couple of weeks ago about coming reductions, but the company did not give specifics on when, where or how many.

Talen simply told the union that reductions were coming at Brunner Island, Montour Power Plant and Susquehanna Steam Electric Plant, Knoebel said.

The IBEW represents approximately 1,100 Talen workers, including about 170 employees at Brunner Island in York Haven, he added.

Talen spokesman Todd Martin wrote in an email that the company evaluates its staffing needs on an ongoing basis, but no announcements have been made regarding Brunner Island, which has about 200 full-time employees, and Montour Power Plant.

He acknowledged that the company informed the union of the ongoing assessment but wrote that it would be premature "to speculate about potential activities at those two plants."

Talen is in the process of turning Brunner Island from a coal-burning plant to a co-fire plant, which can burn coal or natural gas. Martin wrote that he cannot address whether the transition might lead to any layoffs.

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Martin did write that Talen will be reducing employment numbers at Susquehanna Steam Electric Plant in Luzerne County through plantwide reductions, voluntary separations, retirements and not filling current open positions.

"The Susquehanna plant is not facing short-term competitive threats," Martin wrote, "but by acting now to realign the organization and make sure staffing is consistent with top-performing nuclear power plants across the country, we will keep Susquehanna safe, reliable and competitive and protect a majority of its good-paying jobs in the long term."

Martin added that nuclear plants nationwide are looking to operate more efficiently, as a prolonged period of low prices for natural gas and power has forced several operators to prematurely retire plants.

— Reach David Weissman at or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.