Dennis Sumpter retires after 32 dedicated years
Dennis Sumpter, who worked at Associated Electric Cooperative’s Thomas Hill Energy Center for 32 years, retired last month. He began as a general utility first period, the entry level job in operations, back in May 1983. “When I started here I saw a lot of these guys wearing the hard hat, ‘25 years.’ (of service). I said back then, ‘If I could just make that.’ It took a long time, but it didn’t seem so bad now,” he said.
Dennis worked many positions. After AECI switched to low-sulfur coal to improve air quality in 1994, Dennis became an assistant control room operator, completing many procedures to ensure worker safety and efficient operations of the generating units at the power plant.
“Mainly what I do is check equipment; try to catch stuff before it breaks down. I’ve been here so long, but a lot of it was (spent) learning from other people.” His co-workers taught him the intricacies of the machinery, going so far as to convey how equipment sounds different when it’s not functioning properly. His advice for newer employees is to “listen to the older guys.” They will give simple solutions to problems.
One of the main changes during his time at the plant was the addition of computers. “I was here when we had the old paper readouts, gauges. When we converted over to computers, it was a really big step.”
Dennis said he’ll miss the people at Associated the most. “I have worked with all the same guys for quite a while. Everybody’s got a certain way they work, and you get used to that. It makes the night go by easier.”
Dennis said he is proud of working at Associated Electric Cooperative more than three decades. In the future he looks forward to venturing from his hometown of 20 years, College Mound, to travel and visit his brother and three grandchildren in Idaho.
Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. is owned by and provides wholesale power to six regional and 51 local electric cooperative systems in Missouri, southeast Iowa and northeast Oklahoma that serve more than 875,000 customers. Associated Electric’s mission is to provide an economical and reliable power supply and support services to its members, including the “Take Control & Save” energy efficiency program, www.TakeControlAndSave.coop. Associated Electric is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative.
An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/D/V