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Century’s power rate request denied

Keywords: Tags  Public Service Commission of West Virginia, PSC, aluminum, Century Aluminum, Ravenswood plant, aluminum smelter, power rate, Suzy Waite

LONDON — Century Aluminum Co.’s request for reconsideration of a proposed power agreement at its idled Ravenswood, W.Va., smelter has been denied by the Public Service Commission (PSC) of West Virginia.

The PSC in October approved a special power rate for the 170,000-tonne-per-year smelter, which has been shut since 2009. It agreed to link Ravenswood’s power contract to the price of aluminum on the London Metal Exchange but denied Century’s request to pass on some of the costs to Appalachian Power Co.’s other power users, including some residential customers (, Oct. 4).

Monterey, Calif.-based Century responded that the PSC’s proposal wasn’t conducive to a restart and requested a number of modifications to the PSC’s proposal (, Oct. 30).

The PSC on Friday issued an order denying Century’s request for a special power rate, calling the request "fatally flawed because it would impose an unreasonable burden on ratepayers."

The PSC also rejected the proposal due to Century’s "failure to account for changes in electric rates and its inability to provide funds to offset periods of low utility rate payments during low aluminum prices." However, the agency "stressed" that Century could still reopen Ravenswood.

"Century received notice of the PSC’s final decision on its request for a special rate, and we currently are reviewing the order. We will be prepared to discuss the PSC’s decision and how it impacts our restart efforts once we have a more thorough understanding of the order," a spokeswoman told AMM, adding that the company remains "steadfastly committed to restarting the plant."

If Century determines that it can’t reopen the plant under the power rate plan currently on the table, the company can "pursue discussions with the other parties in an attempt to reach an agreement for a more acceptable special rate mechanism," the PSC said, adding that if nothing comes from those discussions, Century can file another complaint and present a new proposal.

Century has said that a restart at Ravenswood is dependent on sustainable aluminum prices and a new labor contract, in addition to a new power contract.

Three-month aluminum closed the LME’s official session at $2,111 per tonne Monday, up from the $1,900 range it has seen for most of 2012 but still down 10.1 percent from this year’s high of $2,349 per tonne in late February.

Appalachian Power didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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