Everyone wants Century Aluminum to restart its aluminum smelter at Ravenwood. Hundreds of people would go back to work, and the surrounding area would recover economically.
But West Virginians should not be forced to subsidize Century’s power bills to make it happen.
The state Public Service Commission should reject the company’s proposal.
Century, a heavy power user, already stands to receive not only a subsidy from other taxpayers, but a subsidy from Appalachian Power Co.’s other industrial, business and residential power customers as well.
Century wants to preserve the option of dumping its power costs on other ratepayers.
In fact, Century wants the powers that be in West Virginia to guarantee that it can make a profit if it restarts the smelter.
How’s that for brass?
As Daily Mail Business Editor George Hohmann reported, Century benefited starting in 2006 from a rate structure that let it smooth out its power bills. It paid more when the price of aluminum was high, and less when the price dipped low.
The overpayments in flush times were “banked” in a special account to offset the lower revenue available in lean times.
The company shut down the smelter in 2009. It has subsequently racked up a $22.7 million bill for power.
Under the 2006 agreement approved by the PSC, the power company now has little choice but to seek to recover that money from other customers.
But it gets worse. …
It seeks a new cost-smoothing rate structure that could again force other customers — including residential customers — to subsidize its business.
In the end, West Virginians who do not have company-provided health benefits in retirement could be asked to pay higher power bills so Century retirees can have them.
— Distributed by The Associated Press