Lawmakers should approve bill quickly

Published 8:43 am Friday, February 28, 2014

Time is running out for about 1,000 men and women who worked at the Ormet aluminum plant until last fall. If Ohio legislators and Gov. John Kasich can give them a fighting chance to save their company, that should be done.

Ormet officials had sought Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approval of electric rates the company contended were needed to keep it in business. But last fall, the PUCO, while agreeing to a break on rates American Electric Power charges Ormet, failed to go down to the level sought by the firm.

That happened in October. Within days, Ormet announced the Hannibal plant would close.

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Failure to obtain the requested power rates also torpedoed a potential deal with a Minnesota company that had considered buying Ormet and taking it out of bankruptcy.

Ormet workers asked Kasich to intervene, but he pointed out he has no authority to change a PUCO order.

Now, state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, has introduced a bill that would allow Kasich to step in.

The idea is for Kasich to order the PUCO to allow Ormet to get out of its contract with AEP and buy electricity on the open market. Company officials think they can obtain rates that would allow the aluminum mill to stay in operation.

That would not force AEP to cut rates to Ormet, but would, in effect, merely allow the company to shop around for a better deal on electricity.

Lawmakers should approve the bill and Kasich should take the requested action — immediately.


Steubenville Herald-Star