HENDERSON, Ky. (AP) - A dispute between a regional utility and two aluminum smelters in western Kentucky over electric rates is getting an increasing amount of attention from Kentucky state officials.
The Gleaner (http://bit.ly/WcSL3x) 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.
"I personally think we're close to an agreement," Big Rivers President and CEO Mark Bailey said.
The issue began with a rate disagreement between Big Rivers and its largest customer, Century Aluminum. When they couldn't reach a resolution after months of negotiations, Century gave notice that it would pull out of Big Rivers this August.