UPDATE 4/4/14 @ 10:50 p.m.
NEW HAVEN, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An alloy plant that has had nearly 200 layoffs during the past year is getting some help from the West Virginia Public Service Commission.
Felman Production on Friday announced that West Virginia’s Public Service Commission issued an order that establishes a special variable rate plan based on market conditions. Specifically, it would determine when Felman would receive a discount off its electricity costs when the ferroalloy market is down and pay a premium when times are good.
Felman’s Chief Executive Officer Mordechai “Motti” Korf said in a prepared release, “While we did not get everything we requested from the PSC, we are very pleased with the ruling. We believe this Order provides an important step in making Felman a viable producer able to weather the ups and downs of the ferroalloy market long term. We thank the United Steelworkers Local Union 5171, representing workers at Felman, which strongly supported the company when it filed its petition with the PSC last August. Members of Local 5171 will vote next week on modifications to the current collective bargaining agreement with the company, which, if passed, will have the effect of further strengthening Felman’s long term viability. ”
According to the order, should Felman choose to accept the approved special rate and enter into a contract with Appalachian Power Company, the contract must be filed with the PSC by June 30, 2014. Any restart at Felman would take several weeks after entering into a contract with the power company.
"I've been scraping," said Allison. "If it wasn't for family, we wouldn't have made it."
What he thought would be a short-term layoff from Felman Production quickly stretched longer and longer.
"The way it end up, it hurt," said Allison. "It's hurt a lot of us."
Allison was one of about 200 who lost their jobs, and with it their livelihoods.
Felman hadn't been profitable since 2010 and shutdown for good in July of last year.
However, the flame of hope in the small town of New Haven was rekindled Thursday, thanks to action from the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.
A new order established a $9 million annual reduction in electric rates for Felman from Appalachian Power.
The discount each month would be based on the gross margin. In a month where the actual gross margin is less than the target, Felman would qualify for a discount off its electric rates. If above the target, Felman would pay a premium above it's regular rate.
The move is an action which could lead to the plant opening back up.
"It'll mean a lot to the whole area," said Robert Ohlinger, who is a union representative for the plant.
When hundreds get laid off, there's a ripple effect on the local economy.
"The local business, it's hurt everybody," recalled Allison.
If Felman chooses to accept the new rate, a contract will be filed by June 30th.
That will mark a year without work for Allison and others. However, they're not counting that time, only the days till they're back at the jobs they love.
"Best job I ever had in my life," said Allison.
WSAZ.com reached out to Felman. A company spokesperson said they will be making a decision soon.