Regional
11:42 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Utility, Smelter Dispute Getting More Attention from Kentucky Business, Environmental Groups

The aluminum smelter in Hawesville is a major employer in the region.
The aluminum smelter in Hawesville is a major employer in the region.

Legislation proposed to address a controversy over electric rates between two aluminum smelters and a region utility is drawing opposition from three business and environmental groups.

The Gleaner reports the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers and the Kentucky Resources Council said in a statement on Monday that the intent of the legislation is good, but "the consequences for everyday consumers would be negative."

The legislation seeks to save the 700 jobs at Century Aluminum in Hawesville and the 500 jobs Rio Tinto Alcan in Sebree by allowing the smelters to buy electricity on the open market instead of through Big Rivers Electric Corp.

The groups urged state agencies to offer incentives such as those to recruit or retain other industries instead of considering new legislation.