Last-minute Century Aluminum deal could save hundreds of jobs

VIDEO: Santee Cooper announces new Century Aluminum deal

MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - Santee Cooper officials announced that Century Aluminum Co. has accepted a deal in principle for the utility to power Century's Mt. Holly plant's electric needs and reduce by half the number of layoffs planned before Christmas.

The agreement, which would allow Mt. Holly to continue operating, is subject to approval by each organization's board of directors.

The deal would provide a new, three-year power contract through which Santee Cooper will deliver 100 percent of the Mt. Holly plant's electric needs, including 150 megawatts from off-system resources and 50 megawatts from Santee Cooper resources.

"We tasked Santee Cooper with pulling out all the stops as long as other customers weren't adversely impacted. They did just that. Now we'll take a look at our laws to see what things we can do to help, provided we don't hurt other customers," Sen. Larry Grooms said.

"The loss of a single job is painful, but hundreds more have been saved. I'm optimistic that legislative options in the coming year, combined with a more favorable market, can restore many of these jobs." Sen. Paul Campbell said.

For now though, some people will find themselves unemployed during the holidays.

"Our relief at reaching this point is tempered because 300 of our people are being laid off," said Michael Bless, President and CEO. However, the plant had been set to lay off 600 employees before Christmas before the deal was reached.

Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper president and CEO is happy Century has accepted the offer.

"I'm pleased Century has accepted our offer and will continue Mt. Holly operations," said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper president and CEO. "Most importantly, it saves more than half of the jobs at Mt. Holly, and it does not increase costs to Santee Cooper's other customers."

"This has been a long process, and I appreciate the interest and involvement by the members of the Berkeley County delegation, Gov. Nikki Haley, and local elected officials," Carter continued. "This new contract will give Century the opportunity to continue Mt. Holly operations while it pursues other relief."

Santee Cooper is South Carolina's largest power producer, the largest Green Power generator and the ultimate source of electricity for 2 million people across the state.

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