June2, 2014
By Bob Matyi

Felman SiMn restart now pegged for mid-June: USW

Felman Production continues to recall workers at its idled 105,000 mt/year silicomanganese plant in New Haven, West Virginia, in preparation for a possible restart later this month, a United Steelworkers union official said on June 2. 

Felman has told the union that it hopes to resume production at the plant around the middle of the month, Roy Martin, vice president of USW Local 5171 at the plant, said in an interview. "Felman is continuing to call people back but we are told startup won't be until around June 16," he said.  

The precise timing may be tied to ongoing electricity rate negotiations with Appalachian Power, an American Electric Power subsidiary that supplies power to the facility. The company previously notified the union it was targeting an early June restart of the plant, idled since last July. But the failure to reach a power agreement with APCo appears to have delayed the planned restart, at least for a while.        

The West Virginia Public Service Commission on May 14 denied requests by several parties to reconsider a favorable April 3 electricity rate ruling for Felman.

The PSC approved most of Felman's request for rate relief, granting a discount of up to $9 million annually. Felman had asked for $9.5 million per year for 10 years.      

APCo last week asked the PSC to clarify details of the special electric rate approved for Felman.

According to Martin, Felman has not apprised the USW about the status of the APCo negotiations. An APCo spokesman on June 2 did not have an update on the discussions with Felman, and Felman representatives did not return a phone call seeking comment on the talks.  

The domestic market for silicomanganese is about 400,000 mt/year, meaning the New Haven plant accounted for about 25% of the market.