Decision on mill’s utility rate is set for Wednesday

CHAMPION – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on Wednesday is scheduled to release its decision on an electric rate decrease that could help an idled Champion steel mill restart operations.

Warren Steel Holdings, idled since March, has said it needs a large utility rate reduction to compete with other steel makers paying significantly less on their fixed rate utilities. The company, which operates on part of the former Copperweld Steel property at 4000 Mahoning Ave. N.W., has said it could return to production next month if the rate reduction is granted.

Michael Salamon, president and chief operating officer for Optima Steel, which oversees the Champion plant, testified recently that the company was promised orders from three customers, including one to produce Oil Country Tubular Goods now being produced in Europe or South America, which would mean a quick ramp up and increase in the local workforce.

Without the utility rate break, the mill could remain idled indefinitely.

PUCO will meet 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Columbus. The meeting agenda indicates the case is set for a proposed opinion and order.