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A co-op success story | Kentucky steel plant nearly doubling capacity

Expansion emphasizes partnership between industry, Kentucky’s electric cooperatives and state government

Kentucky electric cooperative leaders are cheering an announcement by the Nucor Corp. that it will invest $650 million to nearly double its steel-making capacity at a plant in Gallatin County served by Owen Electric Cooperative.

“We are thrilled Nucor has chosen to invest and create additional jobs in Kentucky,” said Mark Stallons, president and CEO of Owen Electric. “All parties have been committed to developing a close working relationship in order to develop solutions that satisfy each organization’s expectations. Nucor has been an excellent partner.”

Leaders of Owen Electric Cooperative, which serves the mill, and East Kentucky Power Cooperative,  the wholesale energy provider to Owen Electric, worked closely with Nucor officials to support the phase II expansion, which is expected to add another 70 jobs.

“We would like to thank Governor Matt Bevin, our local officials, East Kentucky Power Cooperative and Owen Electric, our teammates and the entire community for their support,” said John Farris, vice president and general manager, Nucor Steel Gallatin. “The project will allow us to better serve our automotive and value-added customers.”

Kentucky offers the lowest industrial electric power rates east of the Mississippi – one of its many attractive features for manufacturers. That played a role in Nucor’s decision, as the mill is a major electricity customer and the phase II expansion will create significant additional demand.

East Kentucky Power Cooperative President and CEO Anthony “Tony” Campbell welcomed the decision.

“Nucor’s decision to bring high-quality jobs to Kentucky is wonderful news. This emphasizes the critical importance of affordable, reliable energy for Kentucky’s industries to compete in the global economy,” Campbell said. “Nucor is an important partner for Owen Electric and EKPC, and we are proud of our longstanding relationship.”

Since Governor Matt Bevin took office in 2015, one out of every four dollars invested by economic development projects in Kentucky has been in Kentucky Touchstone Energy Cooperative territory served by East Kentucky Power Cooperative. That figure does not include even more investments in areas served by Big Rivers Electric and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

“Nucor is doing incredible things at its Kentucky steel mill,” Bevin said. “We are excited that, after a substantial investment in 2017, the company has decided to move forward with its phase II project and create additional job opportunities for the county and surrounding communities.

“The steel and primary metals industry are a driving force behind the commonwealth’s surging economy, and this announcement reflects the distinct advantages we have to offer engineering and manufacturing companies. Nucor is certainly a major player in this industry, and we are grateful for their commitment to continue forging success right here in Kentucky,” Bevin continued.

This second phase will increase the mill’s annual capacity from 1.6 million tons of coiled sheet steel to approximately 3 million tons. As well, it will allow the mill to produce coils up to 73 inches wide.

In May 2017, Nucor announced its phase I project; construction of a new building and installation of galvanizing and pickling lines. That phase, expected to open in the first half of 2019, represents a $176 million investment creating 75 full-time jobs. The two phases position the mill to produce substantially more, wider and value-added products, suitable for a broader range of manufacturers and products.

“This investment is another major component of our planned strategy for long-term profitable growth,” said John Ferriola, Chairman, CEO and president of Nucor. “Together with the new galvanizing line, this expansion increases our presence in the important Midwest market, specifically in the automotive, agriculture, heavy equipment, and energy pipe and tube sectors.”

Nucor purchased the former Gallatin Steel Co. from Gerdau SA and ArcelorMittal in late 2014 for approximately $780 million. The mill currently employs 465 people.

In Kentucky, Nucor and its affiliates employ approximately 2,000 people and include Nucor Steel Gallatin, Steel Technologies LLC, Republic Conduit, and Harris Rebar. Nucor also owns the David J. Joseph Co. and its six subsidiary River Metals Recycling facilities across the state, which collect and recycle scrap metal.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Nucor Corp. is North America’s largest recycler and the nation’s largest producer of steel and steel products. The company employs more than 25,000 people at about 200 facilities primarily located in the US and Canada, including several wholly owned subsidiaries.

The company has three segments: steel mills, steel products and raw materials. Nucor’s products include, carbon and alloy steel – in bars, beams, sheet and plate, hollow structural section tubing, electrical conduit, steel piling, steel joists and joist girders, steel deck, fabricated concrete reinforcing steel, cold finished steel, steel fasteners, metal building systems, steel grating, wire and wire mesh.

Founded in 1955, Nucor Corp. traces its roots to 1905 when Ransom E. Olds, Oldsmobile’s creator, left his company after a stockholders dispute. He formed REO Motor Co., which evolved into the Nuclear Corporation of America, and ultimately became Nucor in 1971.

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