Century Comes Clean – Wants Corporate Welfare

Whatever the Charleston Daily Mail is paying headline editors, it’s paying them way too much.  The title of Jared Hunt’s story yesterday was “Century maintains commitment to plant.” In addition to abandoning standard English usage by failing to capitalize words in the title of an article, the Daily Mail editor wrote a headline that is 100% wrong.

I’ll let you decide.  Here are some quotes from the story that indicate Century’s “commitment.”

Bless said the PSC’s rate structure would not allow the company to recoup its $90 million in upfront restart costs. If they must use the PSC plan, the company would have to wait for the global economy to improve.

Since when should APCo’s other rate payers be in the business of “recouping” Century’s “upfront restart costs?” Nothing about electric bills — restart costs.  That’s a pretty simple statement – Century wants APCo rate payers to pay its general business expenses.  And if Century uses the PSC plan that only partially protects APCo rate payers?  Century doesn’t want to take any risks in the market for its own product, so it wants even more corporate welfare to protect it from those risks.  And I thought this was a capitalist economy where risk taking was the name of the game.  Silly me.

The PSC plan also requires Century to sign a formal guarantee that it or its parent company will pay for any power costs that remain at the end of the 10-year rate plan.

The company argues that guarantee should come only from the Century of West Virginia subsidiary company, not the parent corporation. Bless said taking on the guarantee could hinder Century Aluminum’s overall corporate finances.

“We have obviously said that that part of their proposal makes no sense to us,” Bless said. “To us, that would simply be frankly borrowing our losses, and on behalf of our shareowners, that makes no sense at all.”

First, let’s start with that last sentence.  Well, yes, the “shareowners” (interesting made up word – Daily Mail editor, where were you?) are the only people who really matter to Century, and most of those shareholders are not West Virginians or West Virginia rate payers.  Despite what WV politicians tell us, Century could care less about past retirees or the city of Ravenswood or APCo rate payers.

And of course, Century only wants to commit the assets of its WV shell company to the PSC plan.  They certainly don’t want to jeopardize the financial standing of their parent company on a venture that will go belly up after they extract the last scraps of profit from the obsolete Ravenswood plant.  APCo made exactly that point in its own recent filing at the PSC.  They don’t want to be left holding an empty bag if Century walks away from a big electric bill at the end of ten years.

So no, nothing in this Daily Mail article indicates that Century is committed to anything but looting Ravenswood and putting a little money in the pockets of its out of state and foreign “shareowners.”


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