Outage Coordinator | West Paducah, Ky.
Shawnee Fossil Plant, near Paducah, Kentucky, is one of the most reliable and economical coal plants in TVA’s generating fleet, and Michael Treas is one of the reasons why.
He shies away from the spotlight, and is quick to give credit to others at the plant. “Shawnee’s good performance is the result of a team effort,” he says. “It’s because we’re family here. You can call anyone at the plant and ask for help, and you’ll get it.”
But, as outage coordinator, in charge of the action during times when the plant is taken off line for maintenance, Treas has particular responsibility for ensuring the nine active generating units at the plant are in good condition.
His job contributes to the plant’s reliability in two ways, says Treas.
“For an outage to go smoothly, you’ve got to be ready when it starts,” he explains. “That’s on me, and it’s something I take a lot of pride in. I make sure the people working on the outage have all the parts they need and the right materials to do the job. That’s the biggest part of what I do: holding our people and vendors accountable for getting materials to the plant in a timely manner.”
The second involves a steady focus on the end results: “Reliability also means the units will run continuously when we bring them back on line. It means we won’t run into any problems because we didn’t put things back together right or didn’t fix something properly during the outage.”
Treas has worked about 10 maintenance outages at Shawnee since he got the outage coordinator job in 2012. He’s been through every unit at the plant, and now he’s starting over.
Talk to Treas and you get the feeling that you can’t really understand what an outage is like until you go through one. He ticks off some of what’s involved: scheduling, procurement, deliveries, coordinating with vendors, health and safety regulations, quality management, cost management. And, he says, no matter how carefully you plan, something will come up that you didn’t expect.
“During the last outage on unit 3, for example, we had some 50-year-old boiler hangers break,” he remembers. “I got on the phone and found a vendor that was able to make some new hangers for us in just a couple of days. It’s not an 8-to-5 job when you’re in an outage. You have to deal with what needs to be dealt with whether you’re in the middle of dinner or enjoying a Saturday afternoon.”
The pressure is on from day one, Treas says. But he takes it in stride. “If I’ve done my job, everything comes together,” he says. “The people and parts we need are on hand, we do things in the right order and on schedule, and everyone stays safe.”
It’s a job Treas loves: “I look forward to coming to work, and I think it shows. I try to make a difference. And when the people I work with every day let me know they appreciate what I’ve done—when they say thanks—it makes me feel good. It makes it all worthwhile.”
Raising four sons, Treas and his wife Tesha are used to juggling schedules and activities.
“Our boys are 13, 14, 15 and 21, and they’re always into something—playing football or baseball or shooting baskets in the driveway,” he says. “They love to hunt and fish, too.”
And despite the his affection for his 24/7 job, he keeps his focus where it should be: “There’s nothing I’d rather do than spend time with my kids.”
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