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Century Aluminum rejects W.Va. power proposal

Associated Press Modified: October 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm •  Published: October 9, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Century Aluminum on Tuesday rejected a proposal meant to aid the restart of its West Virginia smelter.

The California-based metals producer announced that the electricity rate offer from the state Public Service Commission falls short.

The utility regulator proposed allowing a special electricity rate for Century's Ravenswood plant for up to 10 years. But the commission's ruling, issued last week, also kept Century ultimately responsible for making up the difference between that rate and actual power costs.

Century said it's looking at other ways to restart the plant, and is also asking the commission to reconsider its decision.

"The order includes several positive elements but, as it stands, is not sufficient for a smelter restart at this time," Century said in a statement. "As previously stated, Century is seeking an enabling power contract that would allow us to operate the plant continuously, well into the future. We regret that the current order does not meet that need."

Future aluminum prices played a major role in the 70-page PSC plan to restart the Ravenswood smelter. More than 650 workers were idled when the smelter closed in 2009. A re-opened plant would then help partly restore health benefits for hundreds of retirees, lost after the shutdown.

The commission's ruling also had kept intact a tax credit worth up to $20 million a year, approved by the Legislature earlier this year, that's also meant to help the smelter restart.

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