CHICAGO Century Aluminum
Co. and Big Rivers Electric Corp. hope to negotiate a solution
to the dispute over power at the aluminum producers
Hawesville, Ky., smelter, according to sources familiar with
If the two sides are able to
reach an agreement on how to manage costs potentially
associated with Monterey, Calif.-based Century leaving the Big
Rivers system, legislation introduced in the Kentucky House of
Representatives regarding the issue would be unnecessary, Rep.
Tommy Thompson told AMM Feb. 15.
But if the two sides cant
reach a deal, "well probably come back next week and vote
the bill out (of committee) and move the legislation forward,"
according to Thompson, who introduced the bill Feb. 5.
A similar bill was introduced in
the Kentucky Senate by Sen. Joe Bowen earlier
this month (
amm.com, Feb. 12).
"We dont want to
deregulate the industry," Thompson said. "But in this extreme
case, if we dont provide some legislative relief for (the
smelters), we face losing 3,000 jobs. And we just cant
accept those consequences."
Thompson was referring to jobs
at both Century and Rio Tinto Alcan, as well as ones indirectly
related to the smelters. He stressed that the legislation would
only impact the smelters and not other large industrial power
The House bill was brought
before the Natural Resources and Environment Committee Feb. 14,
but it was decided that no vote would be taken to encourage
Century and Big Rivers to negotiate a solution, Thompson said.
If the bill had been approved in committee, it would then have
moved to the full House for a vote.
Big Rivers president and chief
executive officer Mark Bailey told AMM that Century
representatives had contacted his company and expressed a
willingness to hammer out an agreement. "Were very happy
(about) it," he said. "It (initially) appeared like Century was
putting all their eggs in a bills passage rather than
negotiating with us."
Century didnt respond to a
request for comment.
It remained unclear what role
Montreal-based Rio Tinto Alcan has played in the power issue in
Kentucky, with Thompson characterizing the company as being "on
the sidelines" of the debate despite its having a stake in its
"We have given notice to Big
Rivers, and we are evaluating options for the future of the
plant," a spokesman for Rio Tinto Alcan told AMM Feb.
Rio Tinto Alcan announced plans
to divest 13 assets, including the Sebree smelter, in October
amm.com, Oct. 18, 2011).
An interested party is said to
be seriously mulling an acquisition of Rio Tinto Alcans
smelter in Sebree, Ky., perhaps as part of a bid to get a
better power rate for the facility, several market sources have
told AMM (
amm.com, Feb. 8).