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Silicon Metals Maker Says Electric Rate Increases Are 'Unsustainable'

Amos Plant
Curtis Tate
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
The John Amos power plant in Putnam County, West Virginia, was saved from near-term closure by the state Public Service Commission.

Residents and local governments have lined up in opposition to Appalachian Power’s proposed rate increase. Now, at least one large employer has joined them.

WVA Manufacturing makes silicon metals at its plant in Alloy, in Fayette County.

In a filing with the Public Service Commission, a company official testified that Appalachian Power’s rate proposal could put the plant’s 244 jobs in jeopardy.

In his testimony, Russ Lang, corporate energy manager in the Americas for Ferroglobe, says the company paid $29 million for electricity in the past 12 months – its largest single expense.

Lang says rates have already gone up 12 percent this year. With Appalachian Power’s pending request, the plant’s rates could go up another 27 percent.

Lang calls the increases “unsustainable.” The company has already idled its plant in Niagara Falls, New York, due to electric power costs.

The PSC will hear Appalachian Power’s request on Oct. 4 to recover $297 million from ratepayers. The company cites the higher cost of natural gas and coal, and the lack of availability of coal in the second half of 2021.

Low coal stockpiles at its three West Virginia power plants meant Appalachian Power had to purchase electricity from the PJM market to meet customer demands, but at a higher cost.

Appalachian Power has sued one coal supplier, American Consolidated Natural Resources, formerly Murray Energy. It’s seeking damages of $45 million over missed coal deliveries.

ACNR has countersued. Both lawsuits were filed in court in Columbus, Ohio.

Appalachian Power is an underwriter of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Energy & Environment Reporter, ctate@wvpublic.org, 202-679-8470, @tatecurtis

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