SEFA Group lays off workers, reduces operating hours (Updated Friday)
The Southeastern Fly Ash (SEFA) Group, a processing facility off Pennyroyal Road, announced Thursday it was reducing its work force and hours of operation.
Tom Hendrix, company president, said seven workers at the Georgetown plant were laid off Thursday.
He also said the company will now operate during the daytime only. It had been a 24-hour operation.
Hendrix blames the increased use of natural gas rather than coal by Santee Cooper to make electricity has reduced the supply of ash SEFA needs to make its products.
The company collects fly ash from Santee Cooper’s used coal which is then used to make concrete and other items.
According to the Wall Street Journal, more natural gas is being used to make electricity because it is less expensive and it is forecasted to be in vast supply for years to come.
While the trend started in the late 1990s, the momentum is accelerating and comes at the expense of coal.
Some utilities are closing coal-fired plants; others are converting them to run on gas, the WSJ reports.
The SEFA Group, which has eight plants in the eastern United States, opened the Georgetown plant in 2002.
Hendrix said the Georgetown plant is the only one where layoffs have taken place.
“It’s simply we had to reduce staff because of the lack of supply of fly ash. Electric plants have started using more natural gas and are not using as much coal as they used to,” Hendrix said.
“No utility is using as much coal. It’s not just here. We really hated to do this. They are all such good employees.”
Hendrix said rumors that the Georgetown plant is closing are not true.
“We plan to be in Georgetown County a long time,” he said, adding “if things turn around” the number of employees will once again increase.
By Scott Harper
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