Wood celebrates 35 years at Thomas Hill Energy Center

Change has been abundant during Steven Wood’s 35 years with Associated Electric Cooperative, which owns and operates the Thomas Hill Energy Center to provide affordable, reliable power to six regional and 51 local, member-owned electric cooperatives.

Chief among those changes are environmental controls that improved air quality, including construction of half-billion-dollar plant controls from 2006-2009 to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions and a switch to environmentally friendly coal that reduced sulfur dioxide emissions 90 percent since 1994.

“When I first started,” he said, “you could tell when a unit was on or off just by the smoke stacks.” Now, “the burning is so clean that there’s no way of ever telling.”

Wood joined Associated Electric in 1981 as an entry-level general utility employee and marked his 35th anniversary in 2016. When he started, he said he was overwhelmed and amazed at how much went into generating electricity.

Wood now works as a control room operator, one of the top jobs in operations, where he monitors numerous data points within the plant, including state of the units, the coal feed and environmental controls, all to ensure reliability and efficiency.

He offered words of wisdom for anyone starting a new job. “Come to work and do the best job you can, every day,” he said. “Learn it, and if you’ve got a question, know that someone is always willing to help.”

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’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 is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative.

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