Last updated: December 05. 2013 6:13PM - 1111 Views
By Beth Sergent bsergent@civitasmedia.com

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POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Commission will voice its support of Felman Production’s proposal for a special power rate which the company hopes will allow its silicomanganese plant in New Haven to operate when commodity markets are weak.

Commission President Rick Handley will travel to Charleston on Monday to testify before the Public Service Commission (PSC) on behalf of the proposal.

Handley said he hopes to relay to the PSC the economic realities Mason County has been facing lately, including the loss in over $400,000 in revenue when one unit went offline at Appalachian Electric Power’s Philip Sporn Plant. Handley said losing Felman would be another hit, obviously having a negative impact on not only county revenue but local families. Handley said the county definitely doesn’t want to lose anymore people and if Felman ceases operations, at this point it would mean around 155 jobs lost.

Feldman idled the plant earlier this year because of poor market conditions. Critics of Felman’s proposal have called it “unacceptable” and “fatally flawed.”

As reported by the Associated Press earlier this week, Felman’s proposal would tie the plant’s power rates to the costs of raw materials used in production and commodity prices. The plan caps the amount of discounts the company could receive in a given year at $9.5 million, which represents the amount of Appalachian Power’s fixed costs the company currently pays. When prices are low, Felman’s power discounts would be paid for by shifting costs to other ratepayers. To make up for those costs, the company said it would pay higher rates when its material costs recovered. That benefit would then be passed on to other customers in the form of a rate decrease.

The company submitted its request for a 10-year special power rate under a 2010 law that was intended to help Century Aluminum restart its plant in Ravenswood. The law allows manufacturers that consume large amounts of energy to negotiate rates tied to commodity prices.

In other Commission business:

Commissioners approved new precinct changes following a precinct hearing which had no visitors or comments. County Clerk Diana Cromley presented commissioners with her proposal for boundary adjustments which were needed to ensure all committee districts touch.

Cromley said she could’ve adjusted the boundary two ways - one option affected 1,329 voters and the other option affected two voters. Cromley suggested the scenario which affected two voters which also translated into 92 cents in postage to notify those voters as opposed to $611 in postage to notify voters in the other option - commissioners unanimously went with the option that affected two voters. Those two voters will vote at the Southside Community Building and again, will be notified by mail. Cromley said legal notices about the special hearing on the boundary adjustments were advertised in the Point Pleasant Register, notices were physically placed in the area affected and inside the courthouse.

Commissioners approved requests from Assessor Ron Hickman to hire Dianna Glenn on Dec. 1 on a part time basis to work as an outside contractor with no benefits and paid on an hourly basis. Hickman also requested commissioners approve paying Elaine Ogle four days of unused leave she is entitled to but cannot take before the end of the year. Hickman said these two requests were based upon having newer employees in the office who were undergoing training to meet yearly deadlines. Money for these requests were already in Hickman’s budget.

Commissioners received four sealed bids for the county’s surplus truck with a snow plow that won’t go in reverse. Out of four bids, Mike Balch had the highest at $1,535. Commissioners unanimously approved this bid.

Present at the meeting were Commissioners Miles Epling, Handley, Tracy Doolittle as well as Cromley and County Administrator John Gerlach.

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