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Mount Tom power plant closing in October

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HOLYOKE, Mass. (AP) — The company that owns the coal-fired Mount Tom Power Station announced Monday it will officially close in October after three years of off-and-on operation, and the future of its 28 workers is unclear.

A spokeswoman for GDF SUEZ Energy North America, Carol Churchill, told The Republican of Springfield (http://bit.ly/U822jd) the decision to close its only coal-burning plant in New England is economic. She said the company is exploring another use for the facility, including solar power.

"We are trying to determine what we are going to do with the facility and determine what needs to be done as part of that," she said. She said the company will work with the state Department of Environmental Protection, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the city of Holyoke among other agencies on closing the plant and deciding on a new use for the property.

She said workers will be encouraged to apply for any vacancies at its other plants. The company has several hydroelectric facilities in New England and other plants around the country.

Brian Kenney, business manager and financial secretary for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International 455, which represents the workers, said their contract expiring in October has a severance package.

"These employees are life-long career people and those jobs are cradle-to-grave jobs and they will be tough to replace," he said.

He said he hopes the many workers close to retirement can somehow still qualify for retirement benefits. It's hoped some can be kept on to help with the closing.

Kenney said the only vacancies the union is aware of now are at plants in Texas.

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Information from: The Springfield (Mass.) Republican, http://www.masslive.com/news/

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