RAVENSWOOD - Century Aluminum is not planning to restart its Ravenswood smelter under the ruling made last week by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, company officials said Tuesday.
The company attempted to obtain a utility rate structure through the commission that would have allowed for the restart of the plant and allowed for operation for several years to come.
"Century Aluminum has reviewed the PSC's rate case decision," Century spokesman Lindsey Berryhill said. "The order includes several positive elements but, as it stands, is not sufficient for a smelter restart at this time. As previously stated, Century is seeking an enabling power contract that would allow us to operate the plant continuously, well into the future.
"We regret that the current order does not meet that need. Century is in the process of discussing modifications that would permit a restart at this time, and we plan to file a motion for reconsideration with the PSC," she said.
Officials with Appalachian Power were concerned the proposed rate would be adjusted based on the global price of aluminum. If the prices for aluminum drop, more than 500,000 residential, and commercial, customers would pay more for electricity to offset what the plant uses.
Century recently revised its proposal to address some of these issues, but officials with Appalachian Power still had concerns over possible impacts to its customers.
The PSC said in its decision last week the risks for opening the plant would be shifted from power customers to the company and requires Century to ensure the payment of any shortfalls with Appalachian Power.
The electricity rate would have been based on the price of aluminum and after 10 years, overpayments up to $200 million would be used for rate reductions for Appalachian Power's other customers; overpayments above $200 million would be split 75 percent to the company and 25 percent to reduce power rates.
Something can still be worked out as Century is planning to appeal the decision and is working through options, Ravenswood Mayor Michael Ihle said.
''Those folks will be going back to the table,'' he said. ''I respect the delicate nature of the process in providing what is, in effect, a bulk rate for Century Aluminum.''
Ihle said Century's Ravenswood plant was West Virginia's largest electricity consumer when it was fully operational.
''At a time when burdensome state and federal government regulations and market forces are changing the state's coal industry forever, all West Virginians have a vested interest in the restarting of what has been one of the region's largest employers,'' he said. ''In achieving this goal, the Public Service Commission must respect the equal rights of all citizens and guard against the temptation to ask other rate payers to provide corporate welfare.''
Jeri Matheney, spokesman for Appalachian Power, said it cannot comment on Century's decision because officials do not know the reasons the company will be citing in its motion for reconsideration.
Officials with Appalachian Power are continuing to analyze the PSC's order with plans to file a petition to reconsider over "concerns over potential risks to Appalachian Power,'' she said.
U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., called Century's announcement Tuesday "deeply disappointing news."
''The West Virginia Public Service Commission took a very serious look at this issue and created a path to allow Century Aluminum to reopen its Ravenswood smelter, but unfortunately, Century Aluminum is still not moving forward,'' he said.
''I urge Century to do everything that it can to achieve what we have all been working toward reopening the plant, putting people back to work, and restoring health care benefits that workers and retirees have earned."
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said there needs to be two major priorities throughout this process: first, fighting for every good job in communities throughout the state and second, making sure the public is not on the hook.
''I respect the PSC for doing their due diligence throughout this process and for offering a fair proposal,'' he said. ''Any time that both parties are still talking to each other, there is a reason for hope.
''And I hope for the good of the community and the good of this state that both sides can reach an agreement."