American Rock Salt qualifies for low-cost electricity

By WILL ASTOR - 9/25/2012 3:52:59 PM

American Rock Salt LLC has won an allocation of 2,650 kilowatts of low-cost electricity under the New York Power Authority’s ReChargeNY program, state officials said Tuesday.

Cheap power can only help the mine. But its future is inexorably tied to the weather.

“The power drawn from this allocation will allow American Rock Salt to continue to grow and prosper and provide good-paying jobs for residents of Livingston County and the entire region,” said Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, who along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the current round of ReChargeNY allotments.

The ReChargeNY program gives qualifying businesses allocations of low-cost state Power Authority-produced electricity based on how many jobs the business currently supply and how many jobs they are likely to add. A business’ importance to local communities is also a factor.

One of Livingston County’s largest employers, American Rock Salt typically employs more than 200 at peak production periods. Faced with a dearth of snow last year, the mine was forced to lay off more than 100.
Because it has to keep underground equipment working to keep it from rusting into uselessness, American Rock Salt has been forced to keep adding to a mountain of unsold salt it piled up last winter as the municipalities that usually order tons of salt to pour on roads enjoyed a relatively warm and ice-free winter.

“It's a double bind. Our customers are sitting on inventory, too. They won't need to order more until they use up the salt they have.”American Rock Salt chairman Gunther Buerman told the Rochester Business Journal in March.

To fully recover from the snow-challenged 2011 season, the mine would need serious winter weather to start hitting the region by Oct. 1, the mine’s CEO, Joseph Bucci, said then.  

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