Ameren MO customers could see rate changes amid Noranda shutdown

Ameren MO customers could see rate changes amid Noranda shutdown

NEW MADRID COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Ameren Missouri customers could see changes to their electric rates amid Noranda Aluminum's announcement to shut down its final New Madrid pot line.

In conjunction, the Franklin, Tenn. based company also announced it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Ameren Electric supplies power to the Noranda plant.

Now that the smelter could cease operations, other Ameren Electric customers could feel the burden.

The Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers, a group which represents the state's largest energy users, filed a request with the Missouri Public Service Commission on Feb. 1st asking for a lower energy rate for the aluminum smelter.

The request to the PSC goes on to detail if the smelter closed, Ameren would be forced to sell off the excess power that Noranda used at discounted, wholesale prices, then recuperate the cost from its other customers.

Just how much a Noranda shutdown could cost Ameren customers is yet to be seen.

The report lists Noranda as Ameren's largest electricity customer in the state accounting for about 10 percent of the power that Ameren produces when running at normal capacity.

It also documents Noranda's yearly electric bill for Ameren is about $160 million, or one-third its operating cost at the New Madrid plant.

Ameren vice president of external affairs and communications Warren Wood said in a statement:

"Ameren Missouri will continue to work with Noranda, legislators, and other stakeholders on a long-term legislative solution to support Noranda's operations. Ameren Missouri cares about the people working at Noranda and knows this company and its employees play an important role in sustaining the economy in the New Madrid, Missouri region."

The PSC has also ordered Noranda to respond to a petition that calls into question the company's compliance with prior action by the commission.

Filed on Feb. 3 by a PSC attorney, the petition alleges Noranda violated a condition from an April 2015 order that established a new electric service rate class for Ameren Missouri customers, the Industrial Aluminum Smelters class.

Under the order, the Noranda New Madrid smelter would receive a special electric rate so long it met certain conditions including employing 850 or more full-time workers at the smelter.

In January, Noranda announced it would cut its workforce at the plant by about half and lay off 480 employees.

Under the current system, any rate increases by Ameren would have to be approved by the Missouri Public Service Commission.

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