Century Aluminum has decided that a special arrangement for electric power rates is still not low enough to trigger a restarting of its plant in Ravenswood. But there may be another option for Century to consider.
Why not invest in installing hydroelectric power generators at the Bluestone Dam at Hinton?
The dam was originally designed as part of a nationwide system of flood control and power generation in the 1930s.
However, the six penstocks intended for power generation at Bluestone were never used to generate power. They could easily be converted with modern turbines to generate a substantial share of the power needed by Century Aluminum.
Furthermore, that power would be clean, cheap and non-polluting.
Hydroelectric power has been in use around the world, firing the furnaces of many aluminum and other manufacturing plants.
The potential for hydroelectric power in West Virginia is substantial. Already, hydropower is a primary source of energy for the specialized silicon metals plant at Alloy, West Virginia, which also captures its power from the New River via the Hawks Nest Tunnel.
Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners recently installed modern turbines at the Kanawha Falls generating station nearby at Gauley Bridge.
Perhaps Century could investigate an arrangement with Brookfield Partners to pursue the installation of the turbines at Bluestone Dam and other suitable locations in West Virginia.
This would permit a guaranteed lower-cost production of aluminum in our state and demonstrate the advantages of renewable hydroelectric power compared to coal-based power, which is only going to cost more in the long run.
Mike Harman, St. Albans