Time to Act

TIME IS of the essence. Ormet Corp is on life support.

The Hannibal-based aluminum producer finds itself in dire financial straits. Help is possible, but Gov. John Kasich and PUCO have turned their respective backs on one of the Ohio Valley’s most vital plants.

Ormet is seeking emergency relief in its electric rate dispute with American Electric Power. The rate was $39.66 per megawatt hour when the two reached a power accord in 2009. Now that rate may jump as high as $62.83 per megawatt hour.

Such an increase would be catastrophic to an already struggling company. PUCO Wednesday rejected Ormet’s relief request. The case has been pushed back to Aug. 27.

The delay is a costly one to Ormet. Hopefully, it is not a fatal one.

Ormet’s bid for the lower rate was sought to help expedite the $221 million sale to Wayzata Investment Partners. If such would occur, it would also serve as a vehicle to escape its bankruptcy case filed last winter.

If AEP stands its ground and resists any relief for Ormet, it may serve as a lethal blow to a company that provides some 1,000 well-paying jobs. It also would deliver another major setback to the Switzerland of Ohio School District, which is also mired in deep financial issues.

Kasich casts himself as a crusader for jobs in the Buckeye State. Yet in this instance, the first-term governor has failed to come to Ormet’s rescue, despite pleas from industry officials as well as a host of elected officials.

AEP reported earnings of $338 during the second quarter of 2013. Yet the energy producer has the shortsightedness to play hardball with Ormet.

The time has come for Kasich, PUCO and AEP to realize that if relief is not provided to Ormet, and in timely fashion, everyone will come up losers.