The power deal means that Century can re-open its closed Ravenswood aluminium smelter, which closed in 2009 resulting in the loss of almost 700 jobs.

Century's original proposal - to shift costs to other power users in the region - was rejected by other ratepayers, but they seem to be able to live with the current plan.

Derek Williamson, solicitor for the West Virginia Energy Users Group (WVEUG) said the current special power rate structure is complicated, but the reaction from WVEUG members is 'generally positive'.

The new deal provides Century with a minimum rate that the company must hit over a 10-year period, but the payment can vary month-by-month depending upon the highs and lows of aluminium pricing. At the end of the period, Century will have to balance the books if there is a shortfall.

The plan gives Century a chance to re-open the Ravenswood smelter but it puts all the risk on the company too and not other ratepayers. This, claims Williamson, is key because other power users have seen their rates jump 70% since Ravenswood closed three years ago.

Century has yet to agree the plan, but once agreed, the company will begin hiring workers. A full re-start might take up to four months.