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Yeager officials hopeful for NY service

May. 01, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

CHARLESTON -- Yeager Airport officials say they're optimistic another airline will pick up the nonstop service to New York that American Airlines is dropping.

American is ending the nonstop flight June 12, the same day it ads nonstop service from the Charleston airport to its Dallas hub.

Yeager marketing director Brian Belcher tells The Charleston Gazette that while the New York flight was doing well, service from the Dallas hub makes more sense because American has more connecting flights there than at LaGuardia. But New York remains one of Yeager's top 10 destination cities, and Belcher says discussions are underway with other airlines about providing nonstop service.

Ky. bourbon production tops 1M barrels in 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The amount of bourbon produced by Kentucky distillers has topped 1 million barrels for the first time in nearly 40 years.

The Kentucky Distillers' Association said Monday that 1,007,703 barrels were filled in 2012. The last time the total went over a million was in 1973 when 1,004,877 barrels were produced.

The group's president, Eric Gregory, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Kentucky's distilleries are experiencing double-digit sales growth and seeing landmark production levels while investing in new facilities.

The group says bourbon production is up more than 120 percent since 1999.

The distillers' association promotes and lobbies on behalf of the bourbon industry.

Judge: W.Va. farmer's EPA lawsuit to be heard

MORGANTOWN -- A judge says he won't dismiss a lawsuit over rules the Environmental Protection Agency imposed on a West Virginia chicken farmer it said was polluting the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Lois Alt claims the EPA is overstepping its authority, even though it withdrew violation notices and proposed fines against her Hardy County farm in December.

EPA argued the case was moot. But U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey denied EPA's motion to dismiss because underlying issues need to be addressed.

Power utility, smelter reach tentative deal

HAWESVILLE, Ky. -- A regional utility has reached a tentative agreement with an aluminum smelter on electric rates that would keep the facility in western Kentucky open.

Media report that Henderson-based Big Rivers Electric Corp. and Hawesville-based Century Aluminum announced the agreement on Monday. The entities had been trying for months to negotiate terms for a new power contract, and the aluminum plant had given notice that it could shut down if an agreement wasn't reached by August.

The proposal would allow Century to purchase power at the wholesale price on the open market.

If finalized, the agreement would save 650 jobs at the plant.

The plan would have to get legal approval from both agencies and the approval of the Public Service Commission.

"The contract allowing Century to go to the market will need PSC review/approval, and the current rate case will proceed as planned, taking into account whatever changes are introduced by virtue of the agreement," said PSC spokesman Andrew Melnykovych.

Because Century Aluminum will no longer be purchasing electric from Big Rivers, the company has asked the PSC to increase rates for its other customers.

The utility serves about 112,000 rural customers in 22 counties in western Kentucky.

"We will still have that financial void of $205 million per year when they leave the system," said Marty Littrel, Big Rivers' director of communications and community relations. "If Century closes, we lose their business. If Century buys from the open market, we lose their business."

Big Rivers is the wholesale power supplier for three distributive co-ops -- Kenergy, Jackson Purchase Energy Corp. and Meade County Rural Electric Cooperative. Customers in all three would see an increase of about $24 per month under the proposal.

Littrel said negotiations with Century have centered on how best to keep the smelter open while negating negative effects on others.

"We have been trying to keep the concessions from being higher," he said. "Our No. 1 goal and objective has been to help them without hurting other customers."