HAWESVILLE, Ky. (4/30/13) – As word spread of a tentative agreement reached between Century Aluminum and Big Rivers Electric Corporation for the purchase of electricity to power the aluminum’s smelting operation in Hawesville, public officials all said they were obviously pleased that the two companies were able to negotiate a deal.
Century Aluminum had threatened to close the plant down over proposed electric rates, prompting state lawmakers to rally in order to prevent that. Legislation was in the works to allow the region’s two smelters – Century Aluminum and Rio Tinto in Sebree – to buy their electricity at wholesale prices on the open market. However, State Representative Jim Gooch, who serves on a special state energy subcommittee, said it was hoped the legislation wouldn’t have to be acted upon.
“We wanted to let both parties know the legislature is interested,” Gooch said of the proposed bill. “Even while we had the legislation, we were facilitating a lot of meetings.”
“There’s no question this is really good news,” he added, noting that allowing the industry to remain here now is important because of the anticipated growth in the use of aluminum, including everything from automobiles to soda cans. “Aluminum is very important. The usage is expected to double in the next decade.”
Hawesville Mayor Rita Stephens also used the phrase “good news” when discussing her reaction to the announcement with SurfKY.
“I’m ecstatic that they have come together,” she said, noting that the local ministerial association had recently called for a time of fasting and prayer about the issue. Three weeks after the fasting began, the deal was reached. “Praise the Lord. This is good for the community.”
Several hundred people are employed at Century Aluminum.
Other local officials contacted about the announcement weren’t immediately available for comment.
Photo provided by SurfKY Graphics
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