AECI employees receive awards for excellence at Thomas Hill Energy Center
Five employees at Thomas Hill Energy Center were among those honored this week at the 22nd annual employee recognition awards ceremony at Associated Electric Cooperative’s Springfield headquarters on March 22.
The recipients of these awards were nominated by their peers and co-workers.
Donna M. Epperly-King of Moberly is a financial analyst III in plant accounting and the recipient of the 2015 Excel Community Advocate award. She assists with the plant’s budget, long-range planning and financial projections, but she also finds time to volunteer in her community.
One of her three nominators elaborated: “Donna spends much of her time, energy and passion on a number of community service causes within the plant and the surrounding community. Whenever there is a committee at the plant advocating for a charity or a service event, you will likely find Donna front and center, an integral part of events and campaigns … Her organizational skills, work ethic and passion for these causes have a significant positive impact on Thomas Hill’s community involvement and fundraising efforts.”
Epperly-King has served on the plant’s United Way committee and last year helped raise funds for several cancer support organizations. She also served on the plant’s Contributions Committee, which reviews requests for funding from community organizations. Last year she also co-chaired a toy drive for needy children and helped secure the votes for a Macon High School class to win $100,000 for the school.
The latter project began when the multimedia class at Macon High School submitted a video, “2 Hands on the Wheel, 2 Eyes on the Road,” promoting safe driving to a national Shelter Insurance competition. When the class video became a finalist, Donna drove Macon students to MU and other locations to lobby for an online vote for the video. Her efforts helped the team win the national prize.
Speaking of the Excel award, Epperly-King said, “It makes me feel good to be nominated. I do it (volunteering) because it’s the right thing to do. It’s great to receive the Excel, but I didn’t do this by myself. It was totally a team effort.”
Epperly-King also thanked Associated Electric Cooperative and its board of directors for funding the contributions committee and supporting the many community and charitable efforts at the power plant.
Along with her award, Associated Electric presented a $500 check to Epperly-King that will go to the American Diabetes Association in honor of her Excel award.
David B. Howard of Huntsville, engineering manager; Bradley K. Mosier of Keytesville, journeyman welder/mechanic; and Andrew C. Williams of Jacksonville, maintenance planner, are the recipients of the 2015 Excel Award for Innovative Action.
The three employees led a team of troubleshooters to find a timely solution for an unusual generator problem. When a water leak was found in a detector on one of the plant’s generators, there was potential for catastrophic generator failure because the water was critical to cooling stator coils that operate at 22,000 volts.
“This team worked together and avoided a long-term outage and completed a repair that had never been completed before. If it was not for this team, Unit 3 could have possibly been offline for several weeks or months without service to our member-owners,” said the nominator.
The leak and subsequent repair were unusual. Even the generator’s contractor and subcontractor had never encountered the problem and had no speedy solutions to offer. With no outside expertise to help them and no spare part available, the team ultimately settled on a special weld to repair the leaking water jacket. In less than four days from the time of detection, the team repaired the leak and put the unit back on line – compared to weeks or months of downtime estimated by the contractor and subcontractor.
Stacy W. Maxwell of Salisbury, operations superintendent, is the recipient of the 2015 Excel Award for Employee of the Year in an Operational Field. Praised as a leader, his nominator said, “Stacy has created a culture of proactive accountability in the operations department.”
Maxwell joined the plant three years ago, bringing experience from his work at Central Electric Power Cooperative’s Chamois Power Plant, where he had worked in operations since 1990. For the last 10 years there, he was operations superintendent. At Thomas Hill, he is responsible for the daily operation of the units.
Maxwell’s nominator noted his hands-off management style, which employees have embraced. As Maxwell explained it, “We have very good, intelligent employees who know their jobs and responsibilities. There’s no need for me to tell them when to push the buttons.”
Although 2015 was challenging with planned and unplanned unit outages, Maxwell continued to push responsibility down. “It’s their unit. They realize that now and take pride and ownership,” he said, proudly pointing to some records over the past few years: 21 out of 25 successful startups (much better than the national average) and more than 10 generation records in late 2014 and early 2015.
Andrew C. Williams of Jacksonville, maintenance planner, is the recipient of the 2015 Excel Award for Employee of the Year in a Technical Field. “Andy has proven to be an enormous asset for Thomas Hill for turbine generators, rigging and plant knowledge. Andy has supported Thomas Hill in making decisions for sticking turbine valves, coupling issues, valve actuators and damaged water jackets,” said his nominator.
Williams joined Associated Electric only a few years ago, but he had worked periodically at Thomas Hill as a Westinghouse, then Siemens, contractor beginning in the 1990s. His nominator praised him for his “what can I do more to help attitude,” which Williams applied during several generator issues in 2015.
As maintenance planner for Unit 3 and the water and air building, Williams works closely with operations, engineering and outside contractors in planning and executing repairs and replacements. His years in the field taught him the importance of working together, making sure parts were on hand and getting units back on line as quickly as possible.
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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