POINT PLEASANT —Members of the United Steelworkers were outside the Mason County Courthouse on Thursday trying to bring attention to saving jobs at the Felman Plant in New Haven.
Felman Production idled the plant last year because of poor market conditions. If Felman ceases operations, it could mean at least 155 jobs lost.
Members of the USW were outside the courthouse on Thursday to also bend the ear of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) who was visiting for a town hall meeting. Manchin stopped to speak with the delegation about their concerns.
One of those concerns is getting the Public Service Commission to rule favorably for a proposal filed with the agency by Felman — a proposal that would tie the plant’s power rates to costs of raw materials used in production and commodity prices.
As reported by the Associated Press, 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. 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.
On Thursday, Manchin told the Point Pleasant Register he would definitely look into the situation to see what he could do to help and would be making further comment soon. The USW hopes Manchin can intervene in some way to save the plant and its jobs.