Sandow workers come to town

Economic boost anticipated from March project

Mobile home parks are filling in advance of anticipated Sandow maintenance. 
Reporter/Mike Brown Mobile home parks are filling in advance of anticipated Sandow maintenance. Reporter/Mike Brown A town in need of an economic boost is about to get one, possibly as soon as next week.

For the past several weeks Rockdale has been filling up with contract workers in anticipation of an outage—and the next round of major maintenance work—at Luminant’s Sandow Power Plant.

The company won’t talk about such projects in advance, citing the competitive energy market and fears that a competitor might benefit from knowing the exact time a major plant would shut down.

But such projects are so huge, and involve so many workers, they’re virtually impossible to fly totally below the radar.

That’s what’s happened in Rockdale with the area’s RV parks filling up, some to near capacity, and a fair amount of out-of-state license plates making appearances.

EMPLOYMENT—The Reporter has learned some personnel have been told to expect the maintenance project (outage) to begin around the first week in March.

In fact, one staffing agency is running employment inquiries through the Rockdale office of Workforce Solutions of Texas.

That agency is seeking applicants for 52 positions, including 20 welders, four iron workers, four millwrights, four riggers and 20 “helpers.”

That’s only one of the staffing agencies believed to be involved.

600 LAST YEAR—With the closing of Alcoa’s smelter, Luminant outages have become major economic events for the Rockdale business community.

Last year an outage in May drew 600 additional workers to Rockdale.

But last year’s outage was a one-of-akind event. It also featured the installation of noise-reducing baffles on Sandow Unit 5 to address a problem which cropped up after the 581-megawatt steam-powered generating unit went on-line in August, 2009.

In the weeks after that unit went on line, residents of the area adjacent to the power plant reported noise and vibration concerns.

An initial project in November, 2009, with installation of steel plates, lessened the noise at longer distances but some residents clos- er to the plant, especially along Champions Drive, continued to lodge complaints.

The 2012 work, by consensus, drew praise from area residents, who said the baffles did their job to reduce noise.

Last year, after the baffles were installed on Unit 5, workers moved on to standard maintenance projects on Unit 4.

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