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Ky. groups oppose bill aimed at saving Century

Keywords: Tags  Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, Greg Higdon, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Dave Adkisson, Century Aluminum, Michael Bless, Hawesville smelter, Rio Tinto Alcan Sebree smelter

CHICAGO — Proposed Kentucky legislation that would allow aluminum smelters to seek power on the open market is drawing opposition from three business and environmental organizations in the state.

The proposed laws could have negative consequences for other energy consumers, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers and the Kentucky Resources Council said.

Manufacturers, for example, could see higher power bills, something they can’t afford in an uncertain economy, the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers said.

Utilities incur significant infrastructure costs to provide power to manufacturing customers, expenses that are generally shared by all customers, Greg Higdon, president and chief executive officer of the association, said in a statement March 4.

"When we think about allowing a large user to go outside of that structure to purchase power, the additional costs of power-system maintenance must be absorbed by other users in the area," he said.

The legislation could also hurt the state’s ability to compete globally for business, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce said. "The last thing our utility rate base needs is another unnecessary increase due to government policies creating regulatory uncertainty," David Adkisson, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, said in a statement.

Century Aluminum Co. is pushing for legislation that would allow its Hawesville, Ky., smelter to access power on the open market, with president and chief executive officer Michael Bless saying recently that the smelter "is not viable" without a better power deal from utility Big Rivers Electric Corp., Henderson, Ky. (, Feb. 22).

Thousands of jobs are at stake at the Monterey, Calif.-based aluminum producer’s Hawesville plant and Rio Tinto Alcan’s smelter in Sebree, Ky., according to state Rep. Tommy Thompson (D., District 14), who introduced the legislation supported by Century in the Kentucky House (, Feb. 19). State Sen. Joe Bowen (R., District 8) proposed a similar bill in the Kentucky Senate (, Feb. 12).

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