Noranda | St. Louis Public Radio

Noranda

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks in front of the Capitol during a rally in support of the Noranda bill on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
File photo | Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

There was a sense of urgency when Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens called the first special session on May 18, aimed primarily at reopening an aluminum-smelting operation that had been southeast Missouri’s largest employer.

But in the weeks since Republicans gave the new governor what he wanted, there’s been no communication between smelting-plant officials and the state agency tasked with approving lower utility rates for such projects. However, leaders in the area are pinning their job-creation hopes on the other issue in that special session — a new steel mill that could employ up to 200 people.

Tracy McCreery, May 2017
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Tracy McCreery.

The Olivette Democrat has represented the 88th District since the beginning of 2015. Her district includes portions of Creve Coeur, Olivette and Ladue.

Gov. Eric Greitens leads people who attended a rally during the special session into the Capitol on Tues., May 23, 2017.
Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ first special session was a success.

On Friday, the Senate passed a bill 24-5 designed to reopen an aluminum smelting plant once operated by Noranda, as well as to build a new steel plant nearby. The bill will take effect the moment the Republican governor signs it.

Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

Updated May 25 with the day's actions — The special legislative session called by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is getting closer to the finish line.

A Missouri Senate committee voted 10-1 Thursday to pass a bill designed to reopen an aluminum smelting plant in southeastern Missouri that was operated by Noranda. They made no additions to the bill, which goes before the full Senate on Friday.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks in front of the Capitol during a rally in support of the Noranda bill on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
File photo | Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House expects to send the Senate a bill Wednesday that would reopen a shuttered aluminum plant in the Bootheel region — long known as Noranda — and build a new steel plant next door.

What the Senate will do remains to be seen, considering at least one Republican is using the special session to again harangue fellow GOPer Gov. Eric Greitens for his agenda-pushing nonprofit.

Missouri Capitol, May 2017
File photo | Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:45 p.m. May 22  with number of bills filed Monday – On the eve of his first legislative special session, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his allied nonprofit group are attacking one of the pivotal legislators  needed to win approval of the governor’s favored bill.

The nonprofit group is called A New Missouri and can collect unlimited donations from unidentified donors. It is targeting state Sen. Doug Libla, a Republican whose southeast Missouri district includes the now-closed aluminum smelting plant that Greitens hopes to reopen, along with a possible steel mill.

Libla says he supports the projects. But the senator questions some provisions in the expected special-session bill that he says could reduce state oversight over Ameren, which provides electricity to much of eastern Missouri.

Ameren worker installs LED streetlight
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

The cost of electricity in the St. Louis area could be going up. Ameren Missouri is planning to ask state regulators this summer for a rate increase.

The utility cites a lack of regulatory reform, the shutdown of the utility’s largest customer along with increased investments and operating costs.

Ameren Missouri's largest coal-fired power plant in Labadie, Missouri.
File photo | Veronique LaCapra I St. Louis Public Radio

Executives with Noranda, the aluminum-smelting operation in southeast Missouri, are following through with their threats of cutbacks as a result of the Public Service Commission’s refusal to cut their electric bill.

Noranda now plans to lay off up to  200 workers over the next six months at its New Madrid plant, and is suspending its planned $30 million expansion project, said  chief executive Kip Smith at a news conference Tuesday.

Ameren Missouri's largest coal-fired power plant in Labadie, Missouri.
File photo | Veronique LaCapra I St. Louis Public Radio

As expected, the Missouri Public Service Commission has blocked the effort by Noranda Aluminum Inc. to get its electrical bill cut by about 25 percent.

Ameren contended that the cut would have forced rate hikes for most other Missouri customers in the state.

(Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

On Tuesday night at Harris Stowe University, St. Louis area residents will finally get a chance to weigh in on a utility battle that – one way or another -- will likely affect how much they pay for electricity.

Conducted by Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC), which oversees utilities, the 6 p.m. hearing will center on two dueling narratives: