April 4, 2014
By Bob Matyi

Felman 'pleased' with power relief; seeks revised USW deal 

US silicomanganese producer Felman Production is "very pleased" with a West Virginia regulatory decision that provides the company with a special variable electricity rate plan, adding a union vote scheduled for next week could also strengthen the "long-term viability" of its currently idled 105,000 mt/year silicomanganese plant in New Haven.

While the Florida-based company stopped short of announcing plans to restart the plant — idled at the end of July last year — Felman CEO Mordechai "Motti" Korf said in a statement, released late on April 4, that the Public Service Commission order "provides an important step in making Felman a viable producer able to weather the ups and downs of the ferroalloy market long term." 

Korf acknowledged his company did not get everything it wanted from the PSC. The commission authorized Felman to receive a discount of up to $9 million a year on its electricity rates; the company had sought $9.5 million annually over 10 years and not the $95 million/year that was reported earlier. 

And, the PSC gave Felman until June 30 to enter into a contract with New Haven's power supply, Appalachian Power Co., on the special rate. 

Korf said the United Steelworkers union will vote by April 11 on modifications to its existing collective bargaining agreement with Felman. If ratified by the union's rank and file, the changes "will have the effect of further strengthening Felman's long-term viability," he said. 

Korf did not elaborate on the contract revisions. However, a USW official recently said the company was seeking several concessions from the union. 

The union is believed to be amenable to some concessions if they result in Felman restarting production in New Haven.