Local backers

JACK CERA and Lou Gentile get it. The two state lawmakers understand the concerns and needs of their constituents, and then proceed to champion the respective causes.

Cera is a state representative from Bellaire while Gentile is a state senator from Steubenville. They continually battle for issues that affect the Ohio Valley.

Cera recently sponsored legislation that would give the governor of Ohio the power to overrule the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s order regarding Ormet Corp.’s electricity rates.

Cera”s bill, if enacted, could mean that some 1,000 displaced Ormet workers could return to work at the Hannibal-based aluminum plant. The bill empowers the governor to intervene when necessary to allow a company to obtain market rates for their electricity.

PUCO ruled in October to lower Ormet’s electric costs from $60 to $50 per megawatt-hour, rather than down to $45.89 per megawatt-hour as Ormet requested. The commission also denied Ormet’s request to transition to retail choice for electricity purchases in 2014, ordering the company to honor its current contract with AEP through December 2018.

Following the ruling, Ormet shut down operations almost immediately. The plant has not resumed aluminum operations.

In addition, Cera has teamed with Gentile to pen a letter to Esmark owner Jim Bouchard.

The politicians are attempting to apply pressure on Bouchard to make good on his promises or move aside and enable someone else to revive the Yorkville steel plant.

Bouchard announced his intentions way back in October of 2012 to make the Yorkville facility operational again. He has failed to do that. Moreso, he has exhibited no signs he has intentions to ever do so.

Cera and Gentile should be commended for their efforts. They may not prove fruitful, but at least we have two lawmakers who have their fingers on the pulse of Eastern Ohio and are not afraid to go to bat for us.