And they're good jobs â¿¿ stable, well-paying positions with good benefits in places where such things can be hard to find.
The closures, though, have long been anticipated. The average age of the plants that could be sacrificed is 51 years.
Many plants, such as the one in Glen Lyn, began ramping down production more than a year ago, firing up only when demand surged. Many workers have transferred to more modern plants or are making plans to retire.
To be sure, there will be pain. The smaller the community, the deeper it's likely to be felt. Tax revenues will drop, and communities will struggle to make up the difference.In Rivesville, W.Va., where Ohio-based FirstEnergy is closing an old plant, the slow death began long ago. Mayor Jim Hershman, who worked at the plant for 25 years before retiring, says it had about 40 employees until a year ago when most transferred out. Few of the 10 left even live in the north-central West Virginia community of 1,200, Hershman says. The town stands to lose $40,000 in utility tax revenue â¿¿ one-fifth of its total budget. On the surface, the loss of 60 jobs at AEP's Kammer Plant near Moundsville, W.Va., may also seem small, said City Manager Allen Hendershot. The plant is outside the limits of the city of 9,000, so it has no direct impact on the budget. Yet there's a trickle-down effect on companies that supply materials and services for its day-to-day operation. "It's hard to put an exact number on it," Hendershot says. "It's the coal mine jobs, the trucking jobs, the maintenance jobs." Utility bills are certain to rise as plants go offline and others are retrofitted to meet the new regulations. But the lights will stay on. "It won't be like you're just pulling a plug out of the wall at those plants and they'll instantly shut down," said Brian Bretsch, a spokesman for St. Louis-based Ameren Corp.