ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. — Nineteen employees at Black Butte Coal Company lost their jobs because of lowered demand for the company’s coal on Sunday. Further layoffs are planned to take place Thursday, according to employees who spoke with SweetwaterNOW.
Steve Gili, the mine manager at Black Butte Coal Company, confirmed the layoffs during a phone call with SweetwaterNOW, but refused to comment further.
Employees told SweetwaterNOW the layoffs were not unexpected, and the company has hosted job fairs to help employees find work.
The mine supports the Jim Bridger Power Plant, owned by PacifiCorp. The plant is impacted by Rocky Mountain Power’s push to move away from coal. Initially, the plant’s two oldest units were planned for a complete closure through RMP’s 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, a plan updated every two years and helps RMP operate at the lowest costs available to the company. The plan was later updated to convert the Jim Bridger plant to natural gas. According to the 2021 IRP, Units 1 and 2 at the power plant would be converted in 2023 while the 2023 IRP lists a 2030 conversion date for Units 3 and 4.
The layoffs at Black Butte Coal are the latest in economic impacts caused by the decline in coal. PacifiCorp closed the Jim Bridger underground mine in 2021, which was a mine opened near the Jim Bridger surface mine and provided a supplementary supply of coal for the power plant. RMP continues to move towards renewable energy sources as it invests in wind and solar generation, as well as the proposed Natrium reactor project in Kemmerer.
This article first appeared on SweetwaterNOW. It is shared here with permission.