In revealing state assistance that gives the Ormet aluminum plant at Hannibal some breathing room, Ohio Gov. John Kasich was right to point out that, "there's still more work to do ..."
Ormet notified its work force earlier this year it may have to lay off about 1,000 employees at the plant. The company cited two concerns: Aluminum prices are low and costs for electricity are about to go up substantially.
Aluminum markets are notoriously cyclical, with peaks and valleys in pricing that some companies are unable to bear. For several years, Ormet has handled that problem effectively, however.
Electricity is a different story. Aluminum smelting is an energy-intensive business. Higher prices charged by American Electric Power could be a death blow for Ormet.
As we have reported, Ormet had sought approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for a deal that could ease the blow of higher electric bills. In essence, the plan will allow Ormet to defer some payments to AEP through 2015.
On Wednesday, the PUCO approved the proposal. It should allow Ormet, with help from aluminum prices that are expected to rebound, to handle a projected increase of about $20 million a year in what it pays for power.
A news release issued by Kasich's office noted the PUCO decision "is an important part of the process" of keeping Ormet in business.
Noting the plant "is a vital part of southeast Ohio's economy," Kasich added, however, that "there's still more work to do ..."
He is correct. To his credit, Kasich seems to have instructed the executive branch of Ohio state government to do what it can to help Ormet. If anything, those efforts should be intensified. Without Ormet, the Ohio Valley's economy - in particular, that of Monroe and surrounding counties - will suffer a devastating blow. More state assistance should be provided to help the plant and the communities that rely on it.