100 jobs to end when Entergy shutters PB center in 2015

Entergy Arkansas announced Wednesday that its Pine Bluff systems operations center will close in the first half of 2015, resulting in the elimination of 100 jobs at the site.

Spokeswoman Diane Tatum said Entergy will work with its Pine Bluff employees to help them through the transition. The company is in the process of consolidating six systems operations centers in multiple states to two.

“We currently have systems operations centers in Beaumont, Texas; West Monroe and Gretna in Louisiana; Jackson, Miss.; and Little Rock and Pine Bluff in Arkansas,” Tatum said. “These will be consolidated into centers in Little Rock and Jackson. They will be state of the art and enable us to greatly increase the efficiency and physical integrity of the electrical grid.”

Tatum said that 2015 was chosen as the transition year because the Pine Bluff facility is the largest and its lease expires then.

“This will have an economic impact on the area because these are high-paying jobs,” Tatum said.”The positions are held by engineers, accountants and support personnel.

“We determined that in order to increase the security and the integrity of the electrical grid, this step was necessary,” Tatum said. “We looked at the age of the facilities and the fact that some of them are exposed to extreme weather conditions, especially the ones near the Gulf Coast.”

Tatum said the Pine Bluff facility is the largest of the six, with personnel at each of the other five centers numbering less than 15.

“The electrical infrastructure is aging throughout the country, and over time a lot of upgrades are being done,” Tatum said.

“I spoke with Lou Ann Nesbitt at the Alliance and told her that Entergy Arkansas will continue to work with the economic development professionals in Jefferson County because we are a part of this state,” Tatum said.