Century Aluminum power rate negotiations resume in Kentucky - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Century Aluminum power rate negotiations resume in Kentucky

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Century Aluminum is again trying to negotiate an agreeable electricity rate in Kentucky, according to a March 28 report from Reuters.

The Kentucky General Assembly worked on two bills that would have given aluminum smelters the ability to get power on the open market – measures the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers and Kentucky Resource Council all said they did not support.

Both bills died when Kentucky's legislature adjourned March 26.

Big Rivers Electric Corp. Director of Communications and Community Relations Marty Littrel told Reuters the negotiations with Century started again this week.

Century's Hawesville smelter employs 800 people, and the company provided the necessary 12-month notice in August that it would terminate its power contract with Big Rivers and close the plant unless it could find cheaper power. Big Rivers supplies power to three electric cooperatives that serve more than 112,000 customers in more than 20 western Kentucky counties.

During Century's Feb. 21 quarterly earnings report, CEO Mike Bless said the company was "moving to take advantage of the transformation occurring in the U.S. electric power markets and believe the domestic primary aluminum industry should have a bright future in this environment."

Century also has struggled with settling on an agreeable power rate to reopen its Ravenswood smelter in West Virginia, which closed in 2009 and put about 650 people out of work.

Bless said during the Feb. 21 earnings call that Century was "working hard in Kentucky."

"With the appropriate market-based power arrangement, we are confident we will be able to operate and invest in the plant for years to come."

Chad Harpole, director of government affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, said in a March 29 email the chamber was encouraged to hear that Big Rivers and Century returned to the negotiation table.

"We sincerely hope the two parties can work out a solution to keep Kentucky positioned as the nation's largest provider of aluminum," Harpole said.