Federal grant offered to help Kemmerer as coal-fired plants face closure - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Federal grant offered to help Kemmerer as coal-fired plants face closure

The Kemmerer Mine serves as a backdrop to PacifiCorp’s Naughton Plant, which is a major consumer of the mine’s coal, but is set to shut down coal-burning operations at one of its three units by the end of January 2019. That closing and Westmoreland Coal Company’s bankruptcy has Kemmerer residents worried that the mine might shut down and the town “just about blow away.” (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded a grant to the City of Kemmerer to support its revitalization as economic uncertainty looms.

According to a release from the office of Governor Mark Gordon, the $138,950 grant funding will pay half of the cost to develop an economic diversification strategy, as well as salary for an impact manager for two years to implement the plan.

The strategy is in anticipation of the likely retirement of the Naughton Unit 1 and 2 coal-fired power plants.

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Unit 3 at the Naughton plant was shut down early this year but will be converted to natural gas operation in a few years. The Casper Star-Tribune reported earlier this month that the plant’s owner, PacifiCorp, plans to wind down units 1 and 2 by 2025.

Westmoreland Coal, owners of the nearby Kemmerer Mine that has supplied coal necessary to run the big power plants for decades, is currently in bankruptcy.

According to the release, the plan will “explore target industries, tourism opportunities and quality of life initiatives to identify specific tasks and achievable goals for Kemmerer to pursue.”

The project manager will be hired for two years after the study is complete to help implement the plan.

“The lack of such a position in the past has been one of the biggest reasons our past efforts did not make the progress toward economic diversification we had hoped for,” said Kemmerer mayor Anthony Tomassi in the release.