NEW YORK Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp.s petition for a lower electricity rate in Missouri will move forward on an expedited schedule and prior to potential rate filings from power provider Ameren Missouri, a subsidiary of utility Ameren Corp., the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) said in a filing April 16.
In a separate filing, the states PSC denied Amerens motion to dismiss Norandas rate design petition, noting that the "commission has no basis to judge the accuracy of the facts alleged by the complainants."
The Franklin, Tenn.-based aluminum producer had asked the PSC to approve a new rate of $30 per megawatt hour (MWh), roughly 27.7 percent less than the $41 to $42 per MWh the company now pays to St. Louis-based utility Ameren, adding that the company would need to cut 150 to 200 jobs or ultimately close its 260,000-tonne-per-year New Madrid, Mo., smelter without the rate decrease (amm.com, Feb. 13).
The agency concluded that Noranda should be allowed to present its complaint in the time of its choosing. "They have the burden of proof and if they believe they can prove their complaint in a short amount of time, the commission will allow them to proceed," the filing said.
Ameren Missouri is concerned that the expedited schedule wont allow suitable time for a defense to be prepared, but the commission concluded that the "schedule proposed by the complainants is not so short as to deny the company a full opportunity to respond."
A ruling in the case is expected July 30, with possible rate adjustments going into effect Aug. 13, according to the filing.
"Our rates are 24 percent below the national average, and we are working to provide customers with reliable and cleaner energy while keeping rates competitive," Warren Wood, Amerens vice president for external affairs and communications, told AMM via e-mail.