Aspen Power hoping to re-open in June; some employees will not return

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - "I feel like I was just used up and tossed out," said former Aspen Power Plant water technician, Monica Gibson.

Gibson looks upon the shutdown of Aspen Power Plant, hoping to move on from what she feels was a waste of time.

"I put five years, five years into fighting for this plant, going to Austin and making sure that the plant came here," said Gibson.

Gibson says she supported a dream. She was one of the few in North Lufkin backing the plant's construction. But now, she says, she only invested in uncertainty and it's time to move on.

"We were promised that it would better North Lufkin that the jobs we be able to do something with our lives and make a better life for ourselves. And, none of that has happened," said Gibson.

Gibson says she was laid off a total of eight times in the nearly one year that she worked for the plant.

Shut down in February, Aspen Power says they were spending more money generating electricity than selling it. The plant's president hopes to regain momentum with a re-opening in the coming weeks.

"Power prices have been extremely low, and we elected to open on June 3rd due to the prices in ERCOT," said President, Danny Vines.

Although Vines says operations will be running soon, some Lufkin residents feel the plant was always a no-go.

"This plant should've never been built in North Lufkin," said long-time plant opponent, Sylvester McClain.

McClain is one of the many who opposes the plant and feels environmental dangers were one of numerous problems the plant posed.

"The loud noise, the increased traffic of bringing the fuel in, and also it would probably drive down the property value," said McClain.

But the plant has passed all TCEQ requirements, and Vines maintains it still benefits the local economy. Vines also says, depending on power prices, the plant's opening could be delayed again. He confirms some positions have been cut. 36 employees will be returning, instead of the original 52.

As for Gibson, she already has a new job on the table.

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