JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Legislation enabling Noranda Aluminum Inc. to negotiate power contracts free of state rate regulation became law Thursday after being signed by Gov. Bob Holden.
Company officials said the law is vital to the survival of its New Madrid smelting facility, which employs 1,100 workers.
By allowing for the purchase of power at rates lower than those set by the Missouri Public Service Commission, Noranda officials anticipate a reduction in the plant's energy costs, which account for one third of its operating expenses.
The measure cleared both chambers of the Missouri Legislature without a dissenting vote. Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, and state Rep. Lanie Black, R-Charleston, sponsored it.
"It's a great bipartisan effort to keep jobs in Missouri," said Holden, a Democrat.
Because the measure contained an emergency clause, it became law immediately upon receiving Holden's signature.
Noranda spokesman Steve McPheeters said that because of the future unpredictability of the aluminum market and power prices, the law won't provide a long-term guarantee for the plant's continued operation. However, he said it helps.
"It doesn't guarantee anything for us, but it does give us some flexibility that might allow us to get lower power costs," McPheeters said.
The bill is SB 555.