W. Ky. Aluminum Smelter Could Close

Aug 20, 2012

Nearly 700 employees at an aluminum smelter in Hawesville may lose their jobs because the power costs to operate the plant are too high. Century Aluminum Company says it gave a 12-month notice Monday to terminate its power contract with Big Rivers Electric Corp.

Century CEO Michael Bless says the smelter is competitive in every way except its electricity rate. Negotiations between Century and Big Rivers over power rates stalled in recent months.  Big Rivers CEO Mark Bailey says he's disappointed but says the utility has been preparing for such a move. He says Big Rivers may have to seek a rate increase to make up for the revenue loss if the smelter closes. Century's Michael Bless says the company is exploring options to keep the smelter open. According to the company’s website the plant is the largest producer of high purity primary aluminum in North America.