Steel plant could go back online

CHAMPION TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WKBN) – An idled Trumbull County steel plant soon could start humming again, sending some 200 people back to work.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on Wednesday voted to approve a new energy agreement with Warren Steel Holdings in Champion Township. The commission agreed to a “reasonable arrangement” that will reduce utility costs for the company and help it stay competitive.

In March, Warren Steel Holdings suspended operations, in part because of high energy costs. Company leaders said it had no plans to reopen unless it got a lower power rate.

Wednesday’s ruling clears the way to restart operations, upgrade facilities and create new jobs.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, applauded the ruling, which follows Brown’s and Ryan’s efforts earlier this month to urge PUCO to take this action for the well-being of the Valley and its workers.

“This is excellent news for Mahoning Valley workers and the local economy,” Brown said in a joint news release with Ryan. “A plant closure would have cost the region hundreds of jobs and employees would have lost $53 million in compensation. By approving a fair electricity rate, the Valley will avoid job loss and potentially see new jobs created in the future. PUCO made the right decision, and as a result, the Mahoning Valley will be strengthened.”

“I am pleased that Warren Steel Holdings will be getting a utility rate reduction that will protect local jobs and allow them to restart their mill,” Ryan said in the release. “This decision will help Warren Steel Holdings remain competitive as they seek new opportunities for growth and increased employment.”

To read a letter the lawmakers sent to PUCO chairman Tom Johnson, click here.

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