A state senator from southeast Missouri says he’s always supported special electric rates to help reopen the former Noranda smelter in New Madrid County.

Senator Doug Libla (courtesy; Harrison Sweazea, Missouri Senate Communications)

Governor Eric Greitens (R) has called a special session for the Noranda/steel mill issue. The special session will begin Monday afternoon at 4 in Jefferson City.

State Sen. Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff) has issued a news release, which also says he supports a special electric rate for a new steel mill in New Madrid.

Libla notes that two years ago, he worked to help Noranda receive approval from the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) for an industrial rate discount, only to have Ameren oppose the filing.

State Rep. Don Rone (R-Portageville) has called for legislation to allow the PSC the right to negotiate affordable power rates for the aluminum plant, which Rone and Libla hope can reopen.

Senator Libla’s Thursday statement says he worries about unnecessary rate increases for businesses and families.

Libla emphasizes that if Rone’s amendment last week had not included what he calls a “sweeping deterioration” of PSC scrutiny and only Noranda language, he would have supported it.

Libla also writes that Rone did not notify him about his amendments until last Thursday, one day before the end of the regular legislative session.

“It is unfortunate that Rep. Rone did not make me aware of his amendments to SB 302 earlier in session- rather than surprising us in the Senate just one day before end of session. We could have had several weeks working together to find a solution to help with the electric rate, and to discuss possible other opportunities to reopen the New Madrid smelter site and possible steel mill,” Libla writes.

Libla also says Missouri manufacturers are allowed to request a lower electric rate by directly petitioning the PSC, without pursuing legislation.

Libla has not returned phone messages from Missourinet, seeking additional comment and information about this story.

Rone delivered a passionate speech on the Missouri House floor last Thursday evening, about 24 hours before adjournment.

During that speech, Rone blasted fellow Republicans Libla and State Sen. Gary Romine (R-Farmington) for opposing his amendment to give the PSC the right to negotiate affordable power rates for the aluminum plant.

State Rep. Don Rone (R-Portageville) speaks on the Missouri House floor in March 2017 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications}

Rone says his PSC amendment, which passed last week 148-2, would help restore about 400 jobs at the former Noranda site. He also says it would help create 200 jobs at a new Bootheel steel mill.

Rone describes the two projects as “shovel-ready.”

Missourinet asked State Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) on Thursday evening if he plans to filibuster the bill next week.

“If it contains the language that guts the PSC, we will for sure filibuster,” Schaaf replied.