Century Aluminum in Hancock County and Big Rivers Electric Corporation have reached a tentative agreement that will allow the electricity supplier to buy market-priced power for the Hawesville smelter.
The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reports Century Aluminum also announced today that it is purchasing the Webster County smelter Sebree Works-Rio Tinto Alcan.
The moves appear to at least stabilize the aluminum industry in the northwestern Kentucky region, which employs about 1,200 people.
With only two days left in this year's Kentucky General Assembly session, time is running out for supporters of legislation meant to keep two western Kentucky aluminum smelters—which employ about 3,000 people—from closing.
Under state law, the smelters are required to purchase electricity from the nearest company—Big Rivers Electric, in this case. The smelters say lower aluminum prices have them struggling to pay the bills; they're asking for more options for where they get electricity.
Their legislative supporters want to let the smelters purchase electricity on the open market.
Opponents argue that giving the smelters lower rates or open market options would increase prices for the average customer.
Hancock County leaders are trying to stay optimistic about the future of a major employer in their area. Century Aluminum smelter announced this week it has given Big Rivers Electric Cooperative a 12-month termination notice. That puts the smelter’s ability to operate in jeopardy.