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Jared Hunt column: Companies work on Felman rate plan

Felman Production and Appalachian Power appear to be well into negotiations about a new power contract that will help restart the idled Mason County manufacturer.

The state Public Service Commission ruled in early April that the idled steel additive manufacturer could get up to $9 million in yearly discounts to help restart operations at its New Haven plant.

Felman ceased most of its operations last June, laying off nearly more than 140 employees in the process.

The company said it could restart its silicomanganese furnaces if it could get a break on its power rate. It used a recently passed law that was designed to help Century Aluminum restart its shuttered Ravenswood smelter to ask for a break on its power rate.

Mason County officials and the United Steelworkers backed the company’s request.

Under the PSC ruling, the company’s power rate will vary depending on the price of the various materials — manganese ore, coke, coal and silicomanganese — involved in its production. The company could get up to $9 million in discounts in a given year, should material prices stay low.

The PSC ruling was designed to serve as a framework that Felman and Appalachian Power could use to craft an official contract.

Felman has already received United Steelworkers approval for a new labor contract at the plant, so the contract appears to be the last remaining piece of the puzzle before the company can officially announce plans to restart.

It appears Felman and APCo are in the middle of hashing out that deal.

On Tuesday, power company attorneys filed a request for clarification about one aspect of how the discount plan will work.

According to the filing, it appeared that Felman attorneys interpret the PSC’s decision to read that the company can get up to $9 million in power discounts in a given year, whereas power company attorneys believe the company has to consume a certain amount of electricity to be eligible for a full discount.

The clarification would allow the companies to finish up the language of their contract, which will still have to be presented to the PSC for final approval.

Meanwhile, the PSC earlier this month denied requests from the Consumer Advocate Division and West Virginia Energy Users Group, which represents several large manufacturers in the state, to reconsider the Felman rate decision.

The groups argued the company did not meet all of the legal standards necessary to be granted a special rate. The PSC disagreed and denied the requests.

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In unrelated news, the good folks at GasBuddy.com have done us all a service and figured out the ideal time of the week to fill up your tank.

While one might think the weekend is the worst time of the week to fill up — since more people are traveling, boosting demand (and prices) — it turns out the opposite is true.

“Surprisingly, many states see the lowest gasoline prices for the week during the weekend, which may come as a surprise to many motorists,” analyst Patrick DeHaan said in a blog post.

According to the analysis, which looked a pricing data dating back to 2010, 65 percent of states saw lower prices during the weekend than the week.

The four-year analysis found the best time for West Virginia motorists to fill up was the late weekend. Saturday was the best price day in both 2013 and 2012, with Monday being the best in 2011.


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