Sen. Doug Libla Expresses Frustration Over PSC Dismissing Complaint Filed by Noranda
Jefferson City — State Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, voiced his concern over the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) vote to dismiss a case filed by Noranda Aluminum, Inc., and others against Ameren Missouri.
“I am very disappointed in this decision by the PSC,” Sen. Libla said. “Noranda Aluminum has been paying what many people consider to be an overly high electric rate. Rates for many businesses and households would be significantly higher if it weren’t for Noranda, and without them those rates would increase even more. Ameren has raised the electricity cost at the Noranda New Madrid plant by $44 million since 2009. These rate hikes have made Noranda significantly less competitive. They currently pay the second highest electricity cost of the nine aluminum producers operating in the United States and they are one of only two plants not receiving any type of economic development support for power cost.”
Noranda Aluminum had asked the PSC to reduce the rate paid, claiming that it was unreasonable. The proposed rate reduction was based on: 1) the aluminum plant is crucial to Missouri’s economy; 2) without the rate relief requested the plant would lose viability; and 3) Ameren Missouri ratepayers would benefit more by having Noranda in the system with a more competitive rate than out of the system entirely. Key consumer groups across the state, including the Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers, Missouri Retailers Association, and Consumers Council of Missouri also supported Noranda’s case.
“The PSC had the opportunity to do something crucial for our economy, especially for Southeast Missouri,” Sen. Libla said. “The viability of Noranda’s aluminum plant, and the 900 jobs there, are almost entirely dependent upon having reliable and affordable energy. Over the last six years, Ameren has raised electric rates by 43 percent, which also hurts families and businesses. Noranda’s filing with the PSC would have protected the benefits they provide to Missouri’s economy, workforce, and rate payers. Many in the industry think a significant rate hike might happen if Noranda began buying electricity on the open market as allowed by state law.”
Noranda Aluminum provides more than $300 million in economic benefits annually to the region. Not only do they provide family-sustaining jobs, the company also shoulders a large part of the New Madrid County tax burden by paying almost 18 percent of total property taxes collected. In addition, they support just over 28 percent of New Madrid County Central R-1 School District’s budget. For many years Noranda has contributed to the school district, which has some of the best facilities and educators in the state. Education has a far reaching impact on our citizens and their ability to prepare for the workforce and contribute to society.
“The 25th Senate District of Missouri faces a number of economic challenges, with job creation and retention being at the top of the list. It is crucial that Noranda’s aluminum plant remains competitive. If that plant was to close, it would be very difficult to replace those jobs. These high-quality and high-paying jobs allow those workers to have a positive impact on the communities where they live, both economically and as leaders contributing to the overall quality of life. Noranda’s continued operations and profitability are of utmost importance to all the people of Southeast Missouri,” stated Sen. Libla.