I don't understand why Century Aluminum isn't reopening its Ravenswood smelter.
Careful readers know Century asked for a special electricity rate that other ratepayers might have to subsidize during periods of low aluminum prices.
The state Public Service Commission refused to put other ratepayers at risk. Instead, the PSC approved a flexible rate plan that would require Century to pay any deficit after 10 years.
Century's expert testified that the long-term trend for the price of aluminum is up. The company said the upward trend is so certain there is virtually no chance other ratepayers would be hurt by Century's proposal.
But if Century really believes that, what's the problem with the PSC's decision? Does the company want more time? How about 20 years? Would 50 work?
Century will have until Oct. 26 to file its motion to reconsider, the PSC ruled Wednesday. Century had asked the PSC to extend the deadline to Nov. 1.
I'm wondering if the Ravenswood smelter is a pawn in a bigger game. Aluminum is, as Century likes to remind us, a global commodity.
Is Century holding the possible re-start of the Ravenswood smelter as a bargaining chip to soften up the Steelworkers (who just ended a strike against Constellium, the smelter's next-door neighbor) or the state of Kentucky (where Century has another smelter) or the government of Iceland (where Century has high hopes for new smelting capacity)?
Maybe the answer is simpler: If you've got a few hundred thousand unallocated dollars, why not hire some lawyers and public relations people and dream big? If your dream deal isn't approved, you can tell your shareholders you tried.