Uneasy Times

AND THEN there were none.

When at full capacity, Ormet Corp. has six potlines operating. A few months back, due to financial issues, the aluminum-maker closed four of the lines.

Two, however, became zero on Friday. Ormet’s decision to shut down the remaining two potlines came on the heels of a crucial ruling by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio just two days earlier.

Ormet was asking the PUCO for electric rate relief from $60 to $45.89. Officials at the Hannibal-based facility said the $45.89 figure was needed to keep operating and to help ensure the company’s purchase out of bankruptcy by Wayzata

The Minnesota company was intent on buying the plant if Ormet could lower its electric costs.

The PUCO gave Ormet a break, delivering a $50 rate.

Before Wayzata had a chance to offer a response to the $50 figure, Ormet officials closed the last two potlines Friday. The sudden move yielded shock and additional uncertainty.

At stake is nearly 1,000 jobs and the resultant impact on the local economy. Ormet is one of the Ohio Valley’s industrial foundations. Its well-being is crucial to countless families, businesses and the Switzerland of Ohio School District.

The decision to shut down the final two potlines is not a positive sign. We hope it is not an indication that Wayzata is backing off its purchase plans, as it may be the final hope to keep Ormet afloat.

Wayzata’s intentions will play out in time. It’s decision will be life-altering.