Kelly satisfied DOE final rule retains 1,300 jobs at Pennsylvania steel plant

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on April 4 issued a final rule revising energy efficiency standards for distribution transformers, a decision that U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) says will maintain domestic Grain Oriented Electrical Steel (GOES) production and 1,300 jobs at Cleveland-Cliffs Butler Works in Butler, Pa.

“After more than a year of uncertainty, the Butler Works plant will remain open and Grain Oriented Electrical Steel will continue to be made right here in Butler,” said Rep. Kelly. “Make no mistake: the sudden reversal of this rule is a direct result of the Butler community’s massive pushback against this wrongheaded decision. This is democracy in action.”

Thursday’s announcement came after Rep. Kelly, a Butler resident, led a years-long legislative effort to reverse the DOE proposed rule, which would have increased efficiency standards on distribution transformers, which are already no less than 97.7 percent energy efficient.

The DOE’s updated standards — which include a longer compliance timeline of five years — will save American utilities and commercial and industrial entities $824 million per year in electricity costs, and result in more demand for core materials like GOES, the department said.

Prior to the new final rule being announced, Rep. Kelly on April 1 held a standing-room-only town hall at Butler County Community College in conjunction with Cleveland-Cliffs and UAW Local 3303 to call on DOE to reverse the proposed rule. 

“The Department of Energy and the Biden Administration proposed a reckless rule that threatened our regional economy. They should not be celebrated for simply doing the right thing,” Rep. Kelly said following issuance of the final rule. “I’m encouraged, but not satisfied. We will always fight for these jobs.”

The congressman also thanked union leaders at UAW Local 3303 and Cleveland-Cliffs owners “for standing strong and opposing this rule to achieve a positive result for the workers and the community.”

Jamie Sychak, president of UAW Local 3303, said it’s been a long and trying year for the union chapter and the plant. 

“We fought to protect our jobs, our plant, and our community. And today, we won,” said Sychak after DOE released the final rule, which he said “ensures a viable pathway for UAW-made steel to supply the transformer market long into the future.”

Once the rule is enacted, Lourenco Goncalves, Cleveland-Cliffs’ chairman, president and CEO, said the company expects “to actually see an increase in demand for our GOES, opening the possibility of future investments and expansion of our plants in Butler, Pa., and Zanesville, Ohio.”