By RONNIE ELLIS
Glasgow Daily Times
A legislative panel was hoping for suggestions from a Wisconsin energy consulting firm about how the state can keep two aluminum smelters operating in western Kentucky.
But the report by Christensen Associates Energy Consulting delivered to the Natural Resource Committee Thursday disappointed several lawmakers, and they said as much.
The two smelters – Century Aluminum in Hawesville in Hancock County and Alcan Aluminum in Sebree in Webster County – are the two biggest customers of Big Rivers Electric Cooperative. According to Big Rivers CEO Mark Bailey, they account for 57 percent of Big Rivers’ total revenue and about 70 percent of the power it provides.
Together they employ about 1,260 employees with salaries of $80,000 to $100,000 a year and account for about $100 million in direct wages, according to the Christensen report.
The two smelters signed a contract with Big Rivers for electricity in 2009, but the contract allowed the smelters to withdraw with a one-year notice. Since then aluminum prices have fallen and Century is asking for discounted electrical rates, which comprise about one-third of the cost of producing aluminum.
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