Century Aluminum has come to an agreement with the South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper) on powering the Mt. Holly aluminium smelter, ending a long and heated fight between the two entities over where the plant is allowed to purchase its electricity.
In a press release yesterday Century said the three-year contract has Santee Cooper providing at least 290 Mw of electrical power to the plant, allowing it to boost production by half its current output. Century will accomplish this ramp-up by adding half a new potline, thereby bringing the Mt. Holly plant to 75 percent of its potential capacity.
The new agreement must now go through regulatory approval, which the parties expect to be complete by its start date of April 1. In the meantime, they say they will honor the current contract, which is slated to end at the end of this month, for another three months and through to signing of the new agreement.
Michael Bless, Century’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said the new agreement will allow the plant to add to its workforce as well.
“We could not have reached this milestone without the unwavering commitment of Mt. Holly’s employees, their families and the entire community. In the face of the persistent uncertainty surrounding the plant’s future, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis, our people have consistently operated the plant safely and efficiently. It is only through their focus and hard work that we were provided the opportunity to seek a power arrangement that would enable the plant to continue to operate. The men and women of Mt. Holly have earned our gratitude and our highest respect. We look forward to beginning the significant efforts required to rebuild the cells and otherwise prepare the plant to operate for the longer-term; this will include ultimately hiring an additional 70 people to support the incremental one-half potline.”
“We would also like to thank our colleagues at Santee Cooper for their dedication to addressing a set of complex issues of mutual importance,” added Jesse Gary, Century’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “It is evident they are committed to working with us, within the required regulatory boundaries, to support the critical value Mt. Holly provides to the community and to the state more broadly. We look forward to working with them over the coming years to discuss opportunities to return the plant to full production. We would also like to recognize state leadership, especially Governor McMaster and Commerce Secretary Hitt, without whose dedication we could not have reached this point; they have demonstrated again why manufacturers like Century are attracted to South Carolina.”
Century’s fight with Santee Cooper over Mt. Holly’s power contract lasted several months this year, even leading to litigation after the nearby city government of Goose Creek offered to build its own electrical plant to power the aluminium smelter.