Century has been in negotiation with BREC in an effort to ease the plant's power costs in line with declining global aluminium prices.

BREC has offered Century's Hawesville smelter and its Sebree facility near Robards, Kentucky, almost US$50 million in concessions. Mark Bailey, the not-for-profit power company's CEO, says that Century is looking for around US$110 million in annual relief. Meeting such demands would mean certain rate increases of nearly 37% for BREC's residential customers.

In a report by The Associated Press, Bailey is quoted as saying 'we can't hurt others to help others', referring not only to residential consumers, but also three electricity co-operatives supplying 112,000 customers in the region.

Currently, the two smelters account for 70% of the power generated by BREC and, while Bailey argues that its power rates are among the cheapest in the country, Century CEO Michael Bless says that Hawesville could buy cheaper electricity on the open market.

Century pays around US$49 per megawatt hour to BREC, but on the open market, Bless claims he can buy power at just US$30 per megawatt hour.

The aluminium producer has recently reached a power supply agreement for its plant in South Carolina, but is still in negotiation in West Virginia for a deal that could re-open its Ravenswood smelter.

Hawesville employs 800 people.