Noranda Aluminum’s bankruptcy filing last week likely means higher electric rates for Ameren Missouri’s customers throughout central and eastern Missouri.
About half of the employees at Noranda’s New Madrid County smelter, the Bootheel’s biggest employer, have been laid-off since last month, along with the shutdown of two-thirds of its production lines. The smelter is also Ameren’s single biggest customer, consuming 10 percent of the utility’s total electric output.
In February 2014, Noranda requested a rate reduction to help maintain operations, which would cost the rest of Ameren’s customers less than if the smelter were to shut down. Ameren initially objected to the lower rates, but is now meeting with business and consumer groups to determine a rate agreement.
Ameren’s customers will see a jump in rates if the utility and the smelter reach an agreement for lower rates, which is already the lowest cost for electricity paid by any of Ameren’s 1.2 million customers.
Read more: Jefferson City News Tribune