Report Pessimistic on Viability of Smelter Plants

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Preliminary findings from a study commissioned by lawmakers to help find a solution to a rate dispute between two western Kentucky aluminum smelters and a regional utility painted a grim outlook.

The Messenger-Inquirer and The Gleaner reported the study, which was presented to a panel of lawmakers on Thursday, recommended that Big Rivers Electric Corp. not give in to a request to tie power rates to aluminum prices. It also advised against using state resources to save the smelter plants in Hawesville and Sebree.

Consultants recommended that the utility rebalance its rates so that one category of customer doesn't subsidize another. They also suggested the state allocate funding to employee retraining and give incentives to companies looking to invest in energy efficiency projects.

The smelters employ more than 1,300 people.

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