Hancock County Smelter to End Power Contract, Could Close Doors

Aug 21, 2012

An aluminum company operating a western Kentucky smelter has given notice to terminate its power contract with Big Rivers Electric Corp. The move signals that the nearly 700-employee smelter at Hawesville is in jeopardy.

Century Aluminum Co. says it gave a 12-month notice to end the contract. Century CEO Michael Bless says the smelter is competitive in every way except its electricity rate, and the company is exploring options to keep the smelter open.

Negotiations between Century and Big Rivers over power rates stalled in recent months.

Big Rivers CEO Mark Bailey says he's disappointed but says the utility has been preparing for such a move. He says Big Rivers may have to seek a rate increase to make up for the revenue loss if the smelter closes.