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Big River Steel: Mega Project Selects Arkansas For Groundbreaking Mill

Posted August 1, 2015 in Case Studies

Big River Steel is the world’s first flat-rolled flex mill™ – combining the best of integrated and mini-mills; manufacturing process requires an extremely large electrical load of 450 megawatts

Big River Steel in Mississippi County, Arkansas, will be the only U.S. mini-mill capable of producing certain grades of steel and will produce the widest and thickest flat-rolled steel in the world. Its cold- and hot-rolled products will be aimed at three primary product sectors:

Business Challenge

In February 2012, the then-governor of Arkansas, Mike Beebe, turned to Entergy Arkansas Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Hugh McDonald to ask for the company’s assistance in the pursuit of a $1.3 billion steel mill project that will produce 1.6 million tons of steel annually.

Entergy Arkansas Inc., which serves approximately 702,000 customers, worked with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to meet the needs set forth by Big River Steel.

The vast size of this project, which will produce a full range of steels for key niche markets, presented the Entergy business development team with numerous challenges. The plant also was being wooed by other states.

Big River Steel’s requirements included:

A large, reliable supply of electricity was one of the plant’s primary requirements. When the first two phases of construction are complete, the plant will contain two electric arc furnaces, two ladle metallurgy furnaces, two casting operations, two steel-rolling mills, two steel pickling lines, two galvanizing lines and two annealing processes.

Collaborating with Entergy

More than 120 Entergy employees collaborated with government and company officials on various components of the project, some of which required the approval of the Entergy Corporation board of directors.

Business Solution

Once the site was selected, Entergy Arkansas and Big River Steel successfully developed a special rate contract that was approved by the Arkansas Public Service Commission in 2013. The contract is a five-year initial term with an option to Big River Steel to extend for one additional five-year term.

In addition to city, county and state tax and economic development incentives, Entergy also provided inducements:

The company also appreciated Entergy’s value to its business:

The $1.3 billion plant, which will be built in three phases, will generate approximately 2,000 construction jobs. Phase 1 of production, which will create 525 permanent jobs at an average annual salary of $75,000, is scheduled to start production in the first half of 2016.

Entergy Arkansas played a huge role [in the decision to locate in Osceola]. Electrical power is one of our largest costs in making steel. If they could not provide that amount of power at an economical rate, we wouldn’t be coming here. We will probably be their single largest consumer of electricity – about 450 megawatts.

-John Correnti

President and CEO of Big River Steel

Key Industries

Primary Metals