Business Briefs

TransAlta retires one of two coal-burning units

The TransAlta coal-powered plant outside Centralia shut down one of two coal-burning units on the last day of 2020.

Along with the shutdown of “Unit 1” comes the layoffs of 64 TransAlta employees, which were reported to the state Department of Employment Security in early November. The job eliminations began on Jan. 4 and are expected to conclude by the end of July, according to TransAlta.

“In the last 20 years, our team at Centralia has worked over 9,241,404 person-hours, contributing to TransAlta’s success and to providing low-cost and reliable electricity to energize communities,” TransAlta USA posted on its Facebook page to mark the shutdown.

Coal-burning “Unit 1” came online in 1971 and has since provided over 179,000,000 megawatts of generated power.

Of the 64 laid-off positions, 38 were union positions accounting for several types of jobs at the power-generating company, including maintenance, operations and support functions, according to Lori Schmitt, senior advisor and U.S. stakeholder relations and communications with TransAlta. After all 64 employees are laid off at the end of July, there will be about 115 employees left to operate the second coal-burning unit until that too is retired in 2025.

“It’s a tough transition because TransAlta has been a really good employer that pays really good wages and benefits and trying to replicate that is difficult,” said former Lewis County Commissioner Edna Fund in early November. “We knew it was coming but it doesn’t make it any easier when it’s affecting families.”

In order to ease the transitions, the Centralia Coal Transition Board allocated $8 million from the Economic Development Council (EDC) to support the displaced workers — paying each former employee about $44,700. The same one-time lump sum payment will occur for the employees who will be laid off in 2025. Schmitt said that 39 of the 64 employees volunteered to be laid off and 37 are eligible for retirement.

The shutdown of these units was established and agreed upon by TransAlta and Washington state nearly a decade ago. In April of 2011, then-governor Chris Gregoire, TransAlta executives and members of the environmental and labor communities signed legislation to transition the state off of combustible coal power.

TransAlta has expressed a desire to transition one of the coal-burning units to natural gas in order to keep the Centralia location operational, but the possibility of that happening is uncertain at this point.

— The Chronicle

Cassie Prom joins Oly Pen Real Estate

Cassie Prom, who has lived in Grays Harbor her whole life, began buying and selling real estate 11 years ago. She has now joined Oly Pen Real Estate in Montesano as a real estate broker. Prior to real estate, she had careers in esthetics and teaching.

The office is located at 114 Main St. in Montesano and Prom can be reached at 360-249-8187 or 360-589-6475. The website is

PUD notifies of Ocean Shores residents of planned outage

The Grays Harbor Public Utility District is notifying customers in Ocean Shores of a planned power outage impacting a small section of Ocean Shores Boulevard. The outage will begin at 8 p.m. on Thursday and is expected to last until 6 a.m. Friday and will affect roughly 47 properties, two of which are multi-unit vacation condominiums. Those impacted are residents on the 1300 block of Ocean Shores Boulevard, including the Worldmark property, and the Vacation International property at 1401 Ocean Shores Blvd. All impacted customers will receive a notification phone call from the PUD.

The outage is part of an ongoing project by the PUD to conduct system maintenance.

Therefore, it is not safe to do electrical work or repairs during that period.