Union representatives from Noranda’s massive aluminum smelter in Missouri’s Bootheel area, consultants, lobbyists and state legislators were among the 120 or so people who came to testify at a Public Service Commission hearing in St. Louis Tuesday night. Some were on the side of the large industrial electric customer that wants a lower rate and claims Ameren Missouri has been earning more than it is allowed to recover. Others were behind the state’s largest investor-owned utility.
Noranda’s huge aluminum smelter consumes about 10 percent of Ameren’s power and pays $170 million a year for it. “If we don’t get this rate, there’s a substantial likelihood of an imminent closure of the smelter,” John Parker, Noranda’s vice president of communications, told the crowd.