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KY Legislators Want Big Rivers And Smeltors To Find Middle Ground

A legislative panel has postponed its vote on a bill that would allow two aluminum smelters in western Kentucky to purchase electricity on the open market.

Negotiations over rates continue between Century Aluminum and Big Rivers Electric Corporation. House Bill 211 would allow Century to purchase power on the open market instead of from Big Rivers, bypassing current law. Democratic Representative Jim Gooch of Providence is a co-sponsor of the measure and co-chair of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee, where the bill is sitting idle. He said the best possible outcome does not include legislative action.

“The best ideal is that the two parties come together and come to some kind agreement where we keep those jobs and where they both can continue on to be in business,” Gooch said. “I’m concerned that we will lose those smelter jobs, but if that happens and it forces Big Rivers to shut down I’m afraid that forces them into bankruptcy.”

Century says Big Rivers' rates will force it to close its Hancock County plant, costing hundreds of jobs. Big Rivers says residential rates will rise from an average of $84 dollars to $100 dollars per month if Century buys elsewhere.

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