New bills hopes to save hundreds of jobs - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

New bills hopes to save hundreds of jobs

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Two Kentucky lawmakers have introduced bills they say are designed to save hundred of jobs in the aluminum industry.

In Western Kentucky, Aluminum Smelters employ hundreds of people but they say they might have to close if they can't find cheaper electricity.

This is a "power struggle' that's been going on for months. The smelters say the price of aluminum has dropped so they're making less and can't afford to stay open if they can't find cheaper power.

Now, two Owensboro lawmakers have filed bills in Frankfort.

Senator Joe Bowen, with Senate Bill 71 and Rep. Tommy Thompson with House Bill 211. Both aimed at keeping the smelters open.

"The bill will allow them to go to the open market to purchase power at a rate that is affordable enough to allow them to stay in business," says Thompson. "In this difficult economic market, we can't afford to lose one job so that's what an issue is here and that's what we're trying to prevent with this legislation."

But power company Kenergy says if the bills pass, other customers rates will go up.

"There are costs that our other members would be occurring with providing them with transmission and distribution rights without having to pay for them," says Greg Starheim, President of Kenergy.

Kenergy says they are not sure how much more members would have to pay if the legislation is passed, but says they are drafting amending language for the bill that they hope the energy committee will consider.

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