Many of our newest members may not be aware that the company has its own credit union!
The APS Federal Credit Union (APS FCU) located on Fremont Road, Charleroi, Pennsylvania was chartered in 1935 which serves all employees of First Energy and its wholly-owned subsidiaries.
APS FCU offers a a full range of banking and lending services to First Energy employees at very competitive rates. They are really great to work with too! Check them out!
There’s a new documentary out, crafted by none other than legendary film maker Oliver Stone. No stranger to taking on controversial subjects like he did in Natural Born Killers, Platoon, JFK, or Snowden. Mr. Stone’s latest work is a one-hundred-five-minute infomercial extolling the almost magical benefits of nuclear energy. The preview has all the elements of a classic horror movie with calm assurances of the destruction of our planet dubbed over imagery of smokestacks belching black, inky smoke into the air. The name of this film is Nuclear Now, and it premiered April 28th of this year (click on the link for a preview).
One of our own members saw this developing ten years ago, and wrote an article that was published in the West Virginia State Journal back in 2013 that strongly rejected nuclear energy displacing coal. Excerpts of that article appears below (click on the link above to read the article in its entirety):
“…Then there’s the nuclear revivalist, preaching the gospel of how safe, clean and
environmentally sound nuclear power is. Trouble is, every time these fortune tellers start
prognosticating about a bright, happy, wonderful future all powered by nuclear reactors,
a nuclear power plant explodes…
…Only recently have there been any new permits issued for new nuclear power plants to
be built in the United States since the TMI (Three Mile Island) accident in 1979. There was talk about a
revival of nuclear energy just before Chernobyl, and a small revival was gaining steam
just before the tsunami destroyed Fukushima. These factors add up to an aging U.S.
…One conveniently ignored fact about nuclear power is the billions if not trillions of dollars
wasted on the financing of projects that never got off the ground.
Marble Hill was to be a two-unit nuke plant in Indiana capable of producing over 2,000
megawatts of electric power. It was proposed in 1973 and terminated in 1984 after a
cost of an estimated $2.8 billion.
Bellafonte was another plant proposed in Alabama by the Tennessee Valley Authority
(TVA) in 1974. Construction was halted in 1988, after 14 years and $6 billion dollars
invested. TVA partially defunded construction to finish a second unit that had also been
halted decades ago at its Watts Bar facility.
One of the most glaring examples on the failure of nuclear power in this country is the
Shoreham plant on Long Island. The project was announced in 1965 as a 540MW unit
to be online by 1973 and cost $65 million to $75 million dollars. Plans changed in 1968
when it was announced the unit was being changed to an 820MW unit, and the price
tripled to $217 million dollars. Construction finally began in 1973 and completed amid
huge anti-nuclear protests that grew out of the TMI accident. Shoreham was finally
finished in 1984, but was never put in service.
There are other examples across the nation, from Washington State’s SATSOP project
to TVA’s Hartsville/Phipps Bend projects, but the reality is that no one knows how much
taxpayer, ratepayer and government, as well as private money went up in the smoke of
the promise of the good life with nuclear power…
…This brings us back to coal. Technology such as scrubbers for sulfur dioxide (SO2)
control and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to remove nitrous oxide (NOX) make
coal cleaner than ever…
…On plants deploying NOX removal equipment, they’ve even recognized that the deNOX-ing process helps remove harmful mercury too…
…Emerging technologies such as carbon capture and coal gasification are paving the way
for coal into the 21st century…
…Coal is safer than nuclear, more reliable than wind, solar, or other renewable generation
currently available and, remains the most stable and reasonably priced fossil fuel
available in our country…”.
This is not to say that Mr. Stone’s work isn’t entertaining for its artistry and editing, because it is, but this documentary is proof of the lack of information people have in how power is produced and transmitted to them.
Fossil plants add flexibility to the grid by being able to cycle up and down, whereas nukes are more likely to push renewables off the grid to allow the reactors to run at full capacity for which they are designed to do. If we are going to have energy independence, then we need the “all the above” energy strategy we were promised.
By all means, anybody in the power generation business should see this film, and do so with an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out!
On the weekend of March 25th, 2023, SkillsUSA held the statewide competition for West Virginia High School students who participate in career and technical education (CTE) classes at various career centers. This was a chance for the best of the best of career center student to compete for a chance to go to the National SkillsUSA contest in June at Atlanta, GA.
SkillsUSA is an organization that works to develop student for jobs in various career fields and strengthen the nation’s workforce by turning out young, ambitious, and employable young people who are interested in careers in the vocational and/or technical jobs sector. SkillsUSA is in 53 state and territorial education associations with nearly 14 million annual members since 1965, with 130 different job categories in over 17,000 classrooms nationwide.
Our country is facing a skills gap as “baby-boomers” retire, leaving a deficit of qualified workers to replace them. This is especially true in the skilled trades.
For the 2nd year, Fairmont State University hosted the competition at the Marion County Technical Center located on the North Marion High School campus. There were also competitions in other job classifications at MTEC in Morgantown, and UTC in Clarksburg.
UWUA Local 304 President Stewart Whitehair and UWUA member Ricci Bodkins are both electricians at Harrison Power Station and were asked to judge the competition with Michael Kenny and retired CTE Electrical Instructor Dave Lewis from Putnam County Career and Technical Center.
Stew and Ricci arrived at Marion County Technical Center’s campus on Thursday and helped Marion Country Technical Center instructor Jeff Greenly get set up for the contest.
Before beginning, all students had a safety briefing. There were two competitions held in Mr. Greenly’s classroom and Mr. Morris of MCTC’s Aerospace technology program was a great help in the layout and design of the competition and assisting the judges.
Friday’s contest was 6-hour timed event on industrial motor control. The students were given a project description, layout drawing, and schematic for a 3 phase 120/208V motor circuit with forward, reverse, stop buttons and limit switches.
Saturday’s test was a residential wiring project in which students had 4-hours to wire a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) with a branch duplex receptacle, a pair of three-way switches and a keyless light fixture. The catch was that all receptacles had to trip with the GFCI but the light had to remain on!
The SkillsUSA program is proof of the great things that can be accomplished when education, industry, and labor work together. UWUA members were able to participate thanks to Local 304 and Mon Power’s Volunteer Paid Time Off Program, which is available to Harrison Power Station’s employees through First Energy to allow employees time-off to engage in meaningful activities in the communities we serve. It was a real privilege and honor to be a part of this great competition!
Good luck to all the finalists from UWUA Local 304!
Recently, West Virginia Public Broadcasting posted an article claiming Harrison Power Station, OUR station, was one of the “deadliest” polluters and that emissions from our plant was responsible for contributing to 122 premature deaths in the U.S. annually.
The data used to support the article came from a propaganda piece from The Sierra Club, entitled, “Out of Control- The Deadly Impact of Coal Pollution“. The report goes on to state that 17 coal-fired power plants are responsible for an estimated 1,920 premature deaths.
The study goes into great and confusing detail of the methodology used to come up with these numbers, all backed up by name dropping prestigious universities and governmental bodies that seem to codify their conclusions.
Both the article and the report only serve to prove what we in the power industry already know, which is that ignorance is a very dangerous thing!
The article states that Harrisons TWO units produce 1,984 mega-watts, when in fact, Harrison has THREE units. The footprint of land and resources that Harrison occupies in generating this power is miniscule when considering that the most advanced windmills to date can only produce a maximum of average of 2.75 mega-watts per unit. This translates to 788 windmills to produce the same amount of power of Harrison Power Station.
The largest solar farm in the United States, to date, is the Solar Star project in California. It boasts 1.7 million solar panels that take up over 13 square kilometers of land for a laughable maximum output of 579 mega-watts. After 25-30 years of service, solar panels generally decline in output as they age.
Further neglected is an accounting of the manufacturing energy and resources used in building those windmills and solar panels. Harrison has been in dependable service over 50 years, with regular and predictive maintenance. The blades of windmills are not even recyclable!
One of the emergent technologies coming online is energy storage banks. Large batteries hooked to transformers. Most of these batteries are of the lithium-ion type. The pollution from coal mining pales in comparison to the harmful effects of mining lithium. Lithium mining has been shown to contaminate water tables in the misuse of water, releases large amounts of carbon-dioxide, and destroys large swaths of otherwise fertile land. It takes a half-million gallons of water to process one metric ton of lithium.
What about the power grid?
Large generating units are not meant to cycle up and down like they now have to do as renewable power intermittently cycles on and off the grid, when available. It’s not that renewables will take the place of coal, it’s more likely that this cycling effect will degrade these plants to the point that, because of a lack of reinvestment and a lack of political favor, will be the death nell for coal plants. This at a time when the demand for electric vehicles is set to increase the demand on America’s electrical infrastructure.
The scariest thing is when we get another winter storm like the historic polar vortex we experienced. Gas plants couldn’t run because the fuel supplies were frozen, solar panels were blotted out by an accumulation of snow, and wind turbines sat with icicles hanging from the blades.
Most Americans don’t have a clue how the electricity to their homes is produced, transmitted, and marketed to them. They remain blissfully ignorant of the real-world engineering and science that combines to make sure that when they flip the switch the light comes on.
There are organizations out there who take full advantage of this lack of knowledge and stoke fear and loathing of anything to do with fossil fuels. They raise money from this, pay powerful lobbyists, file lawsuits and injunctions to squeeze every drop of money they can from this topic.
All of us want a clean environment, and there’s no doubt that one day we will find a better way to meet our energy needs, but, until then, we have to let the technology for such energy to evolve and mature. It’s the sensible and responsible thing to do.
The old saying goes, “dance with the one who b’rung ya”.
Coal has been powering this country for over a century. It has pulled us through two world wars, helped us put a man on the moon, and allowed America to become the super-power that it is.
What is a West Virginia workers life worth?
According to the West Virginia Legislature, as stated in the narrowly passed House Bill 3270, a worker’s life is worth $500,00 total. The bill in question is to amend the deliberate intent statute in workers compensation to limit noneconomic damages to $500,000. Pulling back this thin veil reveals that this bill is yet another attempt to cheat West Virginians by radical tort reform which caps awards to employees injured or killed from an employers willful violations of safety practices.
The most serious of these violations fall under the category of “willful intent”. This is when an employer knows of a safety issue and chooses to ignore it, intentionally putting workers at risk and placing profit over safety.
Advocates tout this as a necessary pro-business step that would bring West Virginia more in line with our neighboring states and decry the high price of workers compensation insurance as burdensome to small businesses in our state. Proponents of this legislation paint a broad and misleading picture of greedy, high flying attorneys who reap the rewards of large verdicts that enrich them and cheat the victim.
This bill would restrict victims attorneys to a 20% cap on fees from an award or settlement. Many injury attorneys spend much of their own money in investigation, forensic tests, and expert witnesses, relieving the victim of these burdens. These same lawyers know that they often go up against industry titans who keeps a large contingent of legal talent on staff.
Maybe the most galling fact of this bill is the five-hundred thousand dollar ($500,000) cap. This amount is PER OCCURENCE. In other words, if you and a buddy get killed in the same accident, the capped amount is split between all those affected. In other words, your family would get two hundred-fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) for your life.
Consider this, using the metrics this bill would mandate; the 51 workers killed in the Willow Island Cooling Tower Collapse on April 27th, 1978, would’ve been worth just a shade over nine Thousand-eight hundred dollars per workers. Upper Big Branch miners killed on April 5th, 2010, would’ve fared a little better at 17K apiece, since there were only 29 of them, but the 78 Consol #9 miners killed in Farmington on November 20th, 1968, would only be worth a little over six-thousand dollars each. Thirteen Hundred dollars would’ve been considered a large amount of money in 1906, if you were one of the 362 miners killed in the Monongha Mine Disaster, but still not enough for a widow to raise kids on, even back then. Of course if you were one of the unfortunate workers who helped dig the Hawks Nest Tunnel, your life would be worth a paltry five-hundred dollars, based on the estimate of a thousand men who died from breathing deadly silica.
This bill would also be applied to Black Lung compensation, something miners fought for decades to win.
A public hearing on this measure was held recently at the Capital and many testified for and against the measure. If you watch the testimony, you may even recognize a familiar face. To watch the hearing, click this link.
Life has always been cheap here in West Virginia, and laws were enacted to try to level that uneven ground. They were paid for by the blood and sweat of workers. The UMWA has come out against this bill, as has every organization that holds the lives of workers above shareholder value.
Anyone who has worked in any decent sized industry know that an employer will chance a half-million dollar settlement if he can run a wore out machine that has a replacement cost of four-million dollars for another year.
Here is a list of how each West Virginia Legislator voted in narrowly passing this anti-worker HB 3270. We urge you to write, call, and/or e-mail them to let them know that YOU stand with working West Virginians!
Get the WHOLE story by clicking on the highlighted links!
Pleasants Power Station is set to be closed down in less than 6 months. The economic effects have been thoroughly examined and discussed, quite eloquently by the letter from Craig Straight sent to the West Virginia Public Service Commission (click to read) on the behalf of all Pleasants employees. but what no one is talking about is the broader, and more important issue of national energy security involved in the removal of Pleasant’s 1,300 mega-watts from the grid.
All of us in the electrical generation industry are well aware of the weather extremes we deal with to keep the power flowing. From oppressive heat waves to sub-zero polar vertexes, the dedicated men and women that operate and maintain coal fired power plants manage to keep the plants online.
Make no mistake, the constant and consistent supply of electricity is a foundational issue for our state and country.
This electricity saves lives by powering homes, businesses, and infrastructure that makes our way of life possible. Without this vital lifeline, life is reduced to basic sustenance, and for some of our most vulnerable citizens life is not sustainable.
The power generation business is changing more that it has over the past century. New technologies, shifts in public perception of fossil fuels, and the deployment of renewables on a utility scale has added volitivity into an industry that, by it very nature, is structured to resist and repel such influences.
This is an issue that has been made political by forces at work who wish to transition the nation’s power supply to a carbon-free source. Unless you are actually in the power generation business, it’s difficult to fully impart to others that the technology needed to fulfill this goal is not evolved to the point that we can simply pull the plug on fossil fuels.
We have been promised an “all the above” energy policy from our political masters, yet they actively work against fossil generation and allow widespread, and in our opinion irresponsible, closing of plants that have served this country reliably for decades. They do this by subsidizing sources of power that are barely past the experimental stage, by passing onerous environmental standards, and denying fossil plants any help to upgrade and maintain their plants.
Hatfields Ferry Power Station in Masontown, PA, is a prime example of this. After almost a billion dollars is environmental upgrades that included brand new scrubbers, this 1,700 mega-watt coal plant was unceremoniously shuttered in 2013 after over four decades of service.
The need for baseload power is well documented and fleshed out in many articles, such as the excellent article, How Important is Baseload Generation Capacity to U.S. Power Grids’ Reliability?, by John Miller, as it appears on Energy Centrals‘ website. One of our own members sounded the alarm in a 2013 article submitted to West Virginia’s own The State Journal that states plainly that, “Nothing Can Replace Coal For Baseload Power Needs.“
The Utility Workers Union of America, Local 304, stand in solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters of other trade unions such as the Boilermakers, Pipefitters, Ironworkers, the IBEW, and many others, in saving Pleasants Power Station. Lest you think otherwise, the Pleasants Power Station is not a union station, but it was built and requires the skills and professionalism of a vast amount of union workers to operate safely and reliably.
This is not a union/non-union, Republican/Democrat, conservative/liberal thing it’s just plain common horse sense. We are not insensitive to our Brothers and Sisters at the W.H. Sammis Plant that is also slated for closure.
There will be a day when the technology catches up with the desire to power our nation in a carbon-free environment, but that day is still awaiting for those sources to evolve to the point of being as reliable as what it replaces.
In the meantime, coal is being burned cleaner and more efficiently as ever before in history. Fossil fuels have set a high bar for anything offered as a viable alternative in terms of affordability and durability.
The bottom line is this; if a coal fire power plant with all the proven and scalable pollution controls installed can’t operate when sited in one of the most coal rich states in our country, then it’s just a matter of time before all these plants disappear.
NOTE: Your union does our best to research and draw information from proven and reliable sources. IF YOU ARE NOT CLICKING THE ABOVE HIGHLIGHTED LINKS YOU ARE NOT GETTING THE WHOLE STORY
It has come to the attention of the executive board that the company is using a form, X-4559 (Physician Statement/Release), to gather information about your recent illness/medical procedure with your help. The form itself is not the question, but rather two portions of the form have come into question.
Most times, the form has been given to our member by their supervisor. The top portion is to be filled out by management and they ask that you simply “sign and date” the form and return it to either them or the station nurse.
The issue brought to our attention is two portions of the form. Please see the attached form and notice the highlighted portions. Asking for “Diagnostic Code” and “to release medical records regarding this absence to Medical Services” is information we believe to be privileged between you and your healthcare provider and not required to be provided by you.
We brought the issues of the form to the attention of management late last week, where at that time, involved two of our members in separate matters, requesting those members to sign and return the form. At the conclusion of that meeting, the company “agreed” to accept the form of the above two mentioned matters, with those portions of the form scratched out (Line drawn through) until station management has time to discuss legality with corporate.
In the meantime, if you receive one of these forms from supervision and question any information requested that you provide, please reach out to a member of the executive board for the latest information in regard to this form.
Thanks, Stewart Whitehair, President, UWUA Local 304, Mobile: 304-203-8301, firstname.lastname@example.org
Your union has adopted guidelines for charitable donations from our union to other outside individuals and organizations.
In the past we have elected, on an individual basis, to donate and support members in need, as well as those community activities our members may take part in, but it was felt that we, as a union, needed to have some kind of guidance for such contributions.
Of course, the MEMBERS (in good standing) run this union, and always have the power of the VOTE in these decisions.