UPDATE: Century Aluminum Reviews WV PSC Rate Ruling

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

UPDATED: 12/18/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Century Aluminum is reviewing the Public Service Commission's rejection of its proposals for a special electricity rate for its Jackson County plant.

Century Aluminum spokeswoman Lindsey Berryhill tells the Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/UyjzLe ) that the company remains committed to restarting the plant in Ravenswood.

The company had asked the PSC to reconsider a plan proposed by regulators in October.

The plan allows a special electricity rate for the plant for up to 10 years. But it also keeps Century ultimately responsible for making up the difference between the rate and actual power costs.

Century says the plan isn't sufficient to allow a restart of the plant. It asked the PSC to reconsider and submitted two alternative plans.

The plant closed in 2009.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATED: 12/14/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia regulators won't reconsider Century Aluminum's bid for a special electricity rate for its Jackson County plant.

The Public Service Commission on Friday denied the company's request to reconsider the rate proposed by regulators in October.

That plan allows a special electricity rate for the plant for up to 10 years. But it also keeps Century ultimately responsible for making up the difference between the rate and actual power costs.

Century had rejected the plan, saying it's insufficient to allow a restart of the plant, which was closed in 2009. It asked the PSC to reconsider and submitted two alternative plans.

Regulators said that if the company can't reopen the plant with the plan it proposed, Century can pursue discussions with other parties to reach a more acceptable rate.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 11/19/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Century Aluminum's bid for a special electricity rate for its Jackson County plant is expected to be addressed by state regulators again in December.

In a Friday filing, the Public Service Commission set a tentative Dec. 14 date to address the company's request that the agency reconsider the special rate it proposed in October.

The PSC's plan would allow a special electricity rate for the plant for up to 10 years. But it also keeps Century ultimately responsible for making up the difference between the rate and actual power costs.

Century rejected the plan, saying it's insufficient to allow a restart of the plant, which was closed in 2009.

The company later asked the PSC to reconsider its October ruling and submitted two alternative rate plans.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Update 10/10/2012 7:30 P.M.

Karen Gorell, representative for retired Century workers, issued this statement on the company's decision on an electric rate structure proposal by the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

"We are sorry to say that even though we have faced many road blocks along the way, that Century's recent decision felt like a knock out punch! Even though nothing Century would do should shock us, we must say that we were totally caught off guard. One state official was recently overheard saying that he felt "betrayed" by Century and we say, join the crowd. Betrayal of people that serve them well appears to be common nature for Century executives. They have dangled health care benefits and restoration of lost jobs in front of the retirees and the state like a piece of meat-just beyond our reach. We have all rallied around Century and their new leadership team hoping that if we were all united for a common purpose, each willing to sacrifice a little, and willing to meet in the middle on common ground, that we would achieve that fairy tale outcome that we all have strived so hard to accomplish. Manufacturing jobs that offer a living wage and decent benefits are becoming a thing of the past and we were all very sincere in our hopes of bringing those jobs back to Jackson county. Accomplishing this task would have meant prosperity well beyond the retirees and the laid off workers, as has been established in the past. The retirees feel that our state, our Governor, our legislature, our senators, the commissioners at the PSC, the retirees and many others have worked overtime to bring this together and make it possible for Century to restart this plant and remain competitive for the long haul. It is impossible to reason why Century would turn their backs on all who have worked so tremendously hard to help them. Shame on Century Aluminum. Maybe we should encourage them to sell the facility to someone that truly wants to run it, and to an owner that would recognize a helping hand when it is extended. We are devastated but not defeated. We will never give up the fight to have our benefits reinstated."
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Update: 10/10/2012 6:10 P.M.

"I may be a young guy," said first-term Ravenswood Mayor Michael Ihle, "but I understand that when one side is really excited about a deal, the other side probably is not going to be."

And while regulators were, at the least, hopeful a deal had been worked out to provide electric service to Century Aluminum at a reasonable cost, Century Tuesday said "no deal" to the plan.

Century has stated it plans to appeal last week's ruling by the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

"The ball's back in their court," Mayor Ihle says. "They have a very delicate balancing act to perform, to be able to get a deal that works for Century, that allows them to reopen, but doesn't put taxpayers on the hook for corporate welfare."

The mayor says he is neither optimistic or pessimistic about the prospects of Century reopening. Indeed, that might be characteristic of the feelings of a lot of Jackson County residents.

Among those waiting for a resolution are retirees, who look to see some of their benefits restored once the plant reopens. Their spokesperson has been unavailable for comment, but told us last month they gave up some of those benefits to get the plant back in business again.

"The retirees sacrificed; our benefits, if we get them, will not come close to what we paid over the years," Karen Gorrell said September 10. "But there's too much at stake to play hardball. We did our part, and now, we're just waiting to see if the rest of them will do theirs."

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Century Aluminum is rejecting a proposal meant to aid the restart of its West Virginia smelter.

The California-based metals producer announced Tuesday that the electricity rate offer from the state Public Service Commission falls short.

The utility regulator proposed allowing a special electricity rate for Century's Ravenswood plant for up to 10 years. But the commission's ruling, issued last week, also kept Century ultimately responsible for making up the difference between that rate and actual power costs.

More than 650 people lost their jobs when the plant closed in 2009, and the company has since cancelled retiree health benefits.

Century says it's looking at other ways to restart the plant, and is also asking the commission to reconsider its decision.

UPDATE: 10/05/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Century Aluminum says it's reviewing a plan offered by West Virginia regulators as part of the quest to restart Century's Jackson County smelter.

The state Public Service Commission ruled Thursday that Century's Ravenswood plant could pay a special rate for electricity for up to 10 years. That rate would hinge on aluminum prices.

But Century would ultimately remain on the hook for the actual energy costs. Stronger aluminum prices would make it much easier for Century to cover those costs.

Appalachian Power would provide the electricity. Utility officials say they're still reviewing the decision, but consider its approach a reasonable plan of action.

Both companies commented Friday. The smelter shut down in 2009, throwing more than 650 people out of work. Retirees later lost their health benefits.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 10/04/20412

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A West Virginia aluminum plant would pay a special rate for electricity if it re-opens, but any savings would be short-lived.

That's the decision Thursday from the state Public Service Commission. The utility regulator's 70-page order sets out a plan meant to help Century Aluminum restart its smelter.

The Jackson County plant closed in 2009, idling more than 650 workers. Re-opening the plant would return hundreds of jobs while partly restoring retiree health benefits.

Thursday's plan would allow Century to pay a monthly electrical rate based on aluminum prices, as long as supplier Appalachian Power agrees.

Their agreement would last up to 10 years. After that, Century would face repaying the utility. Strong aluminum prices would make that much easier.

The plan also includes a $20 million annual tax credit.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 8/13/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - State regulators have delayed the timeline for deciding whether to approve a special electricity rate for Century Aluminum's Jackson County plant.

Appalachian Power and several other parties told the Public Service Commission that they need more time to file additional briefs. They say they haven't yet received transcripts of recent hearings in the case.

The Charleston Daily Mail says the PSC granted their request last week. The commission extended the deadline for filing briefs by about a week.

Century Aluminum says it needs to reduce the plant's electricity costs so that it can restart the operation. The Ravenswood plant closed in 2009 and about 650 workers lost their jobs.

Century officials say they expect the PSC to issue a decision in mid-September.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 7/30/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Representatives of Century Aluminum and other parties are scheduled to testify during a hearing on the company's request for a special electricity rate for its Ravenswood plant.

The three-day hearing before the state Public Service Commission begins Monday at the regulatory agency's headquarters in Charleston.

Century Aluminum says it needs to reduce the plant's electricity costs so that it can restart the operation. The plant closed in 2009 and about 650 workers lost their jobs.

Appalachian Power and regular ratepayers have raised concerns that other ratepayers would have to subsidize the plant's electricity costs when aluminum prices fall.

Century Aluminum spokeswoman Lindsey Berryhill tells the Charleston Daily Mail (http://bit.ly/M4vITk) that the company is committed to restarting the plant. She says the biggest hurdle is obtaining a reasonable electricity rate.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Century Aluminum has revised its request for a special power rate for its closed plant in Jackson County.

The revised proposal addresses concerns that other ratepayers would subsidize the plant's electricity costs when aluminum prices are low. In a recent filing with the Public Service Commission, the company says the revisions would reduce the risk to other ratepayers.

Century also says its revised request is the minimum rate that would justify reopening the plant.

About 650 workers were laid off when the plant closed in 2009.

The changes include removing a "guaranteed profit" provision and establishing a minimum power rate if aluminum prices fall below $1,500 per ton.

The Charleston Daily Mail reported the filing in Tuesday's editions.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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