Two Democrats, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-13), applauded a ruling by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) that would help protect hundreds of Mahoning Valley jobs. According to Brown’s Senate Office, PUCO agreed to a “Reasonable Arrangement” that will reduce energy costs for the Warren Steel Holdings company and enable it to remain competitive. Brown and Ryan had advised utility regulators to consider the well-being of the Valley and its workers and act now.
“This is excellent news for Mahoning Valley workers and the local economy,” Brown said in prepared remarks. “A plant closure would have cost the region hundreds of jobs and employees would have lost $53 million in compensation. By approving a fair electricity rate, the Valley will avoid job loss and potentially see new jobs created in the future. PUCO made the right decision, and as a result, the Mahoning Valley will be strengthened.”
“I am pleased that Warren Steel Holdings will be getting a utility rate reduction that will protect local jobs and allow them to restart their mill,” Ryan said. “This decision will help Warren Steel Holdings remain competitive as they seek new opportunities for growth and increased employment.”
In March 2014, Warren Steel Holdings suspended operations due in part to high energy costs. The company indicated that it had no plans to restart operations unless it acquired a more competitive power rate. The PUCO’s decision would not only enable the company to restart operations, but to upgrade its facilities and create new jobs, the duo of Democrats said.
Unfortunately, workers a few hours south at Ormet’s aluminum plant in Hannibal didn’t fare as well when their company went up against the PUCO with a similar request. In May of this year, Ormet laid off the last of the over 1,000 employees that once worked at the facility after the PUCO refused to adjust electricity rates to allow the company to continue operating. Workers at the plant blamed Governor Kasich for refusing to intervene and for rejecting requests to meet with them. “Kasich did absolutely nothing,” said one former employee. “He lied to us, he laughed at us,” said another.
Last month the Ormet site and all of its assets were auctioned off to a Wisconsin company for $25 million. They company plans to redevelop the site.