LG&E upgrade brings hundreds of jobs to Kentuckiana


by Adam Walser


Posted on November 29, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 29 at 6:42 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Hundreds of new jobs, cleaner air and competitive electric rates...that's what LG&E officials say new plant upgrades will bring to Kentuckiana.

The announcement came Thursday at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Mill Creek power plant on lower Dixie Highway.

The new jobs will begin almost immediately. In fact, the hiring office will open Monday morning.

Training is expected to start before the end of the year.

LG&E officials say that by using new technology, they will be able to continue to use coal at the plant, which they say will help customers save money and could help attract new industry to Kentucky.

On Thursday local leaders turned the first shovels into what will be one of the power company’s largest projects ever.

Over the next three and a half years, the company will spent $940 million upgrading the four coal fire power plants that currently supply electricity to serve nearly a million people who reside in Metro Louisville.  

The expansion will allow the plants to all continue to use coal, while complying with new EPA regulations.

“Kentucky has some of the lowest rates in the nation and primarily, that's because 90 percent of our electricity comes from coal,” Jim Gooch, Chairman of the Natural Resources and Environmental Committee of the Kentucky House of Representatives said. “It's our most abundant, most available, most affordable source of electricity.”

“We're able to cost effectively make all this happen using the fuel that is very stable, low cost, do it environmentally sound, comply with all the upcoming regulations,” Paul Thompson, Vice President of Energy for LG&E said.

Construction contractors expect to hire about 700 construction workers over the course of the project, who will earn from $22 to $25 an hour.

Since coal will continue to be used, employment will continue in western Kentucky mines, which supply four million tons of coal a year.

And since electric rates will likely remain low, officials say Kentucky will be able to continue to attract new industry.

“For the average state in the nation, about 20 percent of their electricity goes to large industrial customers, but in Kentucky, it's about 43 percent,” Gooch said.

The upgraded plants will continue to provide plentiful power to big customers like ford and General Electric.

Officials say when the project is finished, everyone will benefit.

“We'll do some substantial reduction of sulfur, mercury, a lot of other compounds through this work. So the air in this area will be considerably cleaner,” Thompson said.

The new construction jobs office will open at Gate 3 of the Mill Creek Plant Monday morning.

Applications will be accepted Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings between 8 and 11 a.m. You can also apply online here.