Warren Steel Holdings plant to reopen
By Burton Speakman
Warren Steel Holdings plans to reopen next Friday after the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved the company’s request for a discounted utility rate.
The agreement will save Warren Steel Holdings up to $35 million over six years on its electric bill from FirstEnergy, said Matt Schilling, spokesman for the PUCO.
Warren Steel Holdings is a melt-shop and casting facility that makes a variety of steel products.
“The agreement also requires the company [to] employ at least 200 workers and 25 contractors in the first year,” he said. “It also requires an investment of [at least] $10 million and up to $33 million over the six-year term.”
The facility employs 314 full-time equivalent workers including wage and salary workers along with on-site contractors.
Warren Steel said in a statement that the reduced utility costs would allow the business to compete with out-of-state companies and forge partnerships with other Ohio businesses. The business is adjacent to state Route 5 off state Route 45.
The plant has been idle since March, according to the WSH statement.
Before the shuttering of operations, WSH had told workers in October 2013 their hours would be reduced and their wages would be cut.
“Being granted the Reasonable Arrangement is a critical component to ensuring the long-term viability of the company,” said John Scheel, vice president of WSH.
WSH now will be able to resume operations, avoid layoffs and better compete within the competitive market, he said. The company also will invest capital and “take advantage of attractive current business opportunities.”
The PUCO agreement further states that the facility could increase its workforce to 374 employees.
“On behalf of everyone at WSH, I want to thank the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for its expedited and thorough review of our application, as well as FirstEnergy, Ohio Edison and the numerous government employees that showed their support for this important matter,” Scheel said.
Some of the improvements named in the PUCO document include a $2.1 million upgrade to the electrical substation and a $600,000 Smart-ARC electric-furnace modernization, which will reduce electrical usage.
The agreement states that once the facility is restarted, it will have an annual impact of $4.3 million in tax revenues, $53.2 million in employee compensation, and $81 million in purchases from Ohio vendors.
The WSH facility has a history of closing and reopening.
The business formerly was Copperweld Steel and then CSC Ltd. The plant closed in 2001 before WSH reopened the site in 2007. Before the site closed in 2001, were more than 1,100 people worked there.