Utility, Smelter Dispute Getting More Attention

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A dispute between a regional utility and two aluminum smelters in western Kentucky over electric rates is getting an increasing amount of attention from state officials in Frankfort.

The Gleaner reports that Gov. Steve Beshear sent a letter on Wednesday urging the presidents of Big Rivers Electric Corp. and its largest customer, Century Aluminum, to come to a compromise that preserves jobs and keeps electric rates from skyrocketing.

A day previous, Democratic Rep. Jim Gooch of Providence filed a bill proposing to force a merger between Big Rivers and East Kentucky Power Cooperative.

Earlier this month, a legislative panel postponed a vote on a bill that would allow the smelters to purchase electricity on the open market.

Big Rivers said the utility continues to negotiate with the smelters.

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