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Century asks for more time to respond to PSC ruling

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Century Aluminum officials want to have until Nov. 1 to ask the state Public Service Commission to reconsider its ruling on a special electricity rate for the company.

Lawyers for Century filed the request Wednesday, one day after the company announced it would not restart its Ravenswood plant, despite the PSC's ruling that the company could have its special electricity rate.

The PSC issued a 70-page ruling on Oct. 4 that Century may have a special rate for electricity, which the company had requested, but the PSC said any risk that the company won't pay enough for its power would have to be assumed by the company, not other Appalachian Power customers.

PSC spokeswoman Martina Bills said Century has 10 days from the day the PSC filed the ruling to ask for reconsideration. That would be Sunday, but because the PSC is closed that day, Bills said Century has until Monday.

Century officials said since the PSC's order is "lengthy and complex," the company needs more time.

"Century requests an extension ... to provide Century with additional time to evaluate the order's implications for the restart of Century's Ravenswood business operations, and to prepare a petition for reconsideration which fairly responds to the order," Century said in its filing.

Century requested that the extension be issued before Monday's deadline. If that doesn't happen, Century's deadline would still be Monday, said PSC spokeswoman Susan Small.

In their statement on Tuesday, Century officials said the PSC's ruling "is not sufficient for a smelter to restart."

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

When the Ravenswood plant closed in 2009, more than 650 workers were laid off. Century officials said that in order to open the plant the company would need a special rate for electricity based on the price of aluminum. The PSC's Consumer Advocate Division had argued against Century's proposal saying that other Appalachain Power customers would see an increase in their bills.

In their ruling, PSC Commissioners Michael Albert, Jon McKinney and Ryan Palmer tried to balance the interests of all Appalachian Power ratepayers and Century by recognizing a special statute related to Century as well as the impact on the economy, Byron Harris, director of the PSC's Consumer Advocate Division, said Tuesday.

Harris said Century's rejection of the PSC's ruling "is disappointing, that's for sure."

Century said Tuesday the company is "discussing modifications that would permit a restart at this time, and we plan to file a motion for reconsideration with the PSC."

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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