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December 5, 2013
By Beth Sergent

Commission to support Felman at PSC hearing 

POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Commission will voice its support of Felman Production’s proposal for a special power rate which the company hopes will allow its silicomanganese plant in New Haven to operate when commodity markets are weak. 

Commission President Rick Handley will travel to Charleston on Monday to testify before the Public Service Commission (PSC) on behalf of the proposal.

Handley said he hopes to relay to the PSC the economic realities Mason County has been facing lately, including the loss in over $400,000 in revenue when one unit went offline at Appalachian Electric Power’s Philip Sporn Plant. Handley said losing Felman would be another hit, obviously having a negative impact on not only county revenue but local families. Handley said the county definitely doesn’t want to lose anymore people and if Felman ceases operations, at this point it would mean around 155 jobs lost. 

Felman idled the plant earlier this year because of poor market conditions. Critics of Felman’s proposal have called it “unacceptable” and “fatally flawed.” 

As reported by the Associated Press earlier this week, Felman’s proposal would tie the plant’s power rates to the costs of raw materials used in production and commodity prices. The plan caps the amount of discounts the company could receive in a given year at $9.5 million, which represents the amount of Appalachian Power’s fixed costs the company currently pays. When prices are low, Felman’s power discounts would be paid for by shifting costs to other ratepayers. To make up for those costs, the company said it would pay higher rates when its material costs recovered. That benefit would then be passed on to other customers in the form of a rate decrease. 

The company submitted its request for a 10-year special power rate under a 2010 law that was intended to help Century Aluminum restart its plant in Ravenswood. The law allows manufacturers that consume large amounts of energy to negotiate rates tied to commodity prices.