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PSC to address reconsideration, clarification requests Dec. 14

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Public Service Commission plans to address Century Aluminum's latest special rate proposals next month.

The PSC has tentatively set Dec. 14 as the date it will issue an order addressing requests for reconsideration or clarification in Century Aluminum's case, according to a filing issued Friday.

Though Century had requested a special rate on electricity in order to restart its Ravenswood plant, last month it rejected an alternative rate the PSC had proposed.

Under that rate plan, Century would pay a price for electricity based on the price of aluminum. If, at the end of a 10-year contract, Century paid more for electricity than it should have, the first $200 million of the difference would go toward reducing rates for Appalachian Power's other customers. Overages above $200 million would be split -- 75 percent to Century and 25 percent going toward reducing Appalachian Power rates. If Century had not paid as much as it should have at the end of the contract, the company would have had to make up the difference.

Century officials rejected that plan, saying it would not allow the Ravenswood plant to reopen.

"Century is seeking an enabling power contract that would allow us to operate the plant continuously, well into the future," Century spokeswoman Lindsey Berryhill wrote in a prepared statement. "We regret that the current order does not meet that need."

Century officials later proposed two alternatives to the PSC's plan, both of which would shift the company's business risks onto Appalachian Power customers, Byron Harris, executive director of the PSC's Consumer Advocate Division, said.  One plan would allow Century to restart the Ravenswood plant sometime next year. The other have the plant reopening in the future when aluminum prices are higher.

"[With] both mechanisms, although [they're] different, they're after the same thing," Harris said Sunday. "They want all of their cost shifted onto the other customers."

The Consumer Advocate Division does not support either of Century's latest alternative plans, he said.

"Nobody does except Century," Harris said. "That's what the order said clearly -- 'We're not going to shift the costs onto other customers.'"

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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