FAIRFIELD, Tex. (KBTX) - A Central Texas town is being hit hard after one of their largest employers shut down last week. The Big Brown Power Plant and Mine in Fairfield has closed permanently and 168 people are without jobs.
Luminant owns the plant. They told KBTX they closed the coal fired power plant due to market forces, the plant's age, and economic factors. It's expected to have an economic impact in Freestone County. The plant had been in operation for nearly 50 years.
"We have a lot of people that I know that work out there. Some of them are retiring, but a lot of them are looking for other jobs," said Sonny Daniel, Sam's Restaurant Owner. He sees a lot of plant workers as customers at his restaurant along Interstate 45.
"As a business owner, I'm concerned about the what's going to happen to the town. It's 200 people work out there, their families, you know, if they have to move off, that's a big blow to this community," he said.
"I think people understand why they can't operate at a loss. It's an old plant, it is that., but it is very frustrating for a lot of people," he said.
"You know the major impact that we all locally see is the tax base," said Blake Robinson who is on the Fairfield ISD School Board.
"Our local school district, the county of course, you know, everybody is concerned about that," Robinson continued.
Luminant told KBTX they don't have any plans to change the elevation at Lake Fairfield. It was built for power plant operations and had warmer temperatures when the plant was in operation.
"The state park, of course, brings a lot of people in year round. A lot of camping and fishing and lake activities during spring and summer time," said Robinson.
Steam is also no longer coming out of the smokestacks after the plant was retired last Monday. When it was in operation Big Brown could make enough electricity for 575,000 homes.
Back at Sam's Restaurant, locals are hopeful about new businesses at an Industrial Park near I-45. But, it will be hard to replace Big Brown.
"I don't think it is the death blow. I don't think this is what's going to do it, but it's going to definitely hurt and everyone's going to feel it," said Daniel.
Around 20 employees will remain during mine reclamation and while the power plant is fully decommissioned.
Besides Big Brown, Luminant has closed two other power plants in the state including Sandow Power Plant in Milam County and the Monticello Power Plant near Mt. Pleasant.