Senator Libla to PSC: Opportunity Crucial For Our Economy
Caruthersville, MO – Thirty-four individuals signed the request to testify list to address the Public Service Commission at the first of three Public Hearings scheduled for June 9, 10 and 11 in Caruthersville, St Louis and Jefferson City, respectively.
The Public Hearings are to determine an issue between Noranda, an aluminum smelter in New Madrid who is Southeast Missouri’s largest employer, and Ameren, the power company. Noranda is asking for their power rates to be fixed at $30/Megawatt hour. Ameren claims this rate would be below their cost and all other Ameren customers would see an increase of 1.8%.
Noranda is Ameren’s biggest customer buying 10% of all of Ameren’s power each month. Noranda pays over $160 Million to Ameren for electricity, a cost which has increased by $44 Million since 2009 and represents more than one-third of Noranda’s annual expenses.
With over 750 in attendance, Senator Doug Libla was the first to testify before PSC Regulatory Judge Woodruff and two PSC Commissioners (Stoll and Hall). The Senator’s words were carefully crafted and to the point, “Our Public Service Commission has an opportunity to do something crucial for our economy. It will help the entire state, and in particular Southeast Missouri, one of the poorest regions of this entire country.”
Libla also told the panel that of nine aluminum smelters operating in the U.S., Noranda now has the second-highest electric rate. The Senator went on to state, “nobody fights harder for consumers in Missouri than Noranda” and “without Noranda, Ameren customers would see higher rates.”
One of the most poignant statements by Senator Libla was his attempt to convey to the panel how important Noranda is to the counties he represents, “I have tried to fathom what the economy of the Bootheel would look like without Noranda. Basically it would be like St. Louis losing the Cardinals, Boeing, Anheuser- Busch, Monsanto, and Express Scripts all at once.”
Following the three public hearings, the two issues (Ameren over-charging customers and Noranda’s request for a fixed rate of electricity) will move to formal hearings on June 16 and July 28 in Jefferson City.