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Wal-Mart OK’d to participate in Noranda case

Mar 24, 2014 | 08:28 PM | Michael Cowden

Tags  Noranda, Wal-Mart, electricity rate, Missouri Public Service Commission, Ameren, Consumers Council of Missouri, Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers, Century Aluminum Ormet

CHICAGO — The Missouri Public Service Commission has given Wal-Mart Stores Inc. permission to intervene in an electricity rate case brought by Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp. against Ameren Missouri.

Among other parties granted permission to participate in the case are the Consumers Council of Missouri, which includes large commercial consumers; the Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers, whose members include large industrial companies; and Festus, Mo.-based River Cement Co., according to commission documents.

A commission hearing on the case is scheduled for March 28.

“We are appreciative that we have been granted the ability to participate in these proceedings and to help ensure that the views of our customers and our company get heard,” a Wal-Mart spokeswoman told AMM March 24.

Franklin, Tenn.-based Noranda is seeking a lower electricity rate for its smelter in New Madrid, Mo., from Ameren Missouri, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based utility Ameren Corp. Noranda has said that without a lower power rate it will need to cut 150 to 200 jobs or ultimately close its 260,000-tonne-per-year New Madrid smelter. The company wants the rate to be approved quickly so that it will be in place by Aug. 1 (, Feb. 13).

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart has more than 70 retail stores and related facilities that receive power from Ameren Missouri. The retail giant has said it could see higher electricity costs if a lower rate is granted to Noranda but has not officially taken a position in the case (, March 11).

U.S. aluminum producers have turned to state power regulators for lower electricity rates in the face of historically low London Metal Exchange aluminum prices.

Two of Chicago-based Century Aluminum Co.’s smelters—one in Hawesville, Ky. (, Aug. 14) and one in Sebree, Ky. (, Jan. 30)—have already used the regulatory process to get a lower power price.

Bankrupt aluminum producer Ormet Corp., Hannibal, Ohio, ceased operations after failing to secure the rate relief it requested from state power regulators (, Oct. 4).

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