The employment roller coaster ride may continue for Covanta Energy employees unless the company signs a restructured power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) before Nov. 1. “We hope we can get something done this week,” said James Regan, Covanta Energy corporate communications associate.
Covanta furloughed employees last fall for the same reason. Employees were rehired within two months while Covanta operated under a tentative agreement with PG&E. A November furlough will affect 26 employees at the Burney and Westwood plants. “A small number of employees will be kept on at each plant to handle routine maintenance during the furlough period,” Regan said. The furloughed employees will not be paid but “will continue to receive current benefits (health insurance) package as long as individual premiums are kept current,” the spokesperson said.
“The two plants currently employ 40 people, have approximate $8 million in annual operating expenses and payroll of approximate $2 million combined,” stated Brian Dahle, Lassen County supervisor in a letter to Covanta and PG&E officials (printed on Page 5). Regan would not confirm the employee number but did concur with the payroll estimate.
“We are hopeful that resolution can be reached as soon as possible. Both PG&E and Covanta are doing their best to find a timely solution,” Mitchel Gorski, director of Covanta’s west region business management, wrote in an e-mail.
Commenting about reaching a mutual accord before Nov. 1, PG&E corporate spokesperson Denny Boyles said, “That’s hard to say. Negotiations are a lengthy process. Don’t have lot of specifics.”
“The combination of uncertain fuel supplies, the cost of fuel and reduced energy rates make the facilities uneconomical to run,” Gorski said.