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Economic and dam related articles

BPA is Balking,
Lobbyists Gonna Lobby

by Staff
The Stand, June 8, 2022

BPA doesn't have enough dependable low-cost hydropower
to promise the Intalco plant.

The Alcoa Intalco aluminum smelter, as seen from the air Sept. 19, 2013, will remain open at least two more years after a power deal was announced Tuesday, January 28, 2022. The Ferndale smelter had been scheduled to have its operations curtailed in June, laying off 465 workers. (Bellingham Herald photo) From the Washington Post -- Workers want a 'green' aluminum plant. Now they just need clean power.

A plan to revamp the Intalco Works aluminum smelter as a key piece in the future of renewable energy in the United States has been embraced by seemingly everyone: the machinists union, a private equity firm, the new electric vehicle industry, environmental groups and the state's political establishment -- from Washington's pro-environment governor, Jay Inslee (D), to pro-jobs local Republicans.

And it would make the smelter the only one functioning west of the Mississippi.

But a final obstacle -- how to power the factory, and who will pay for that -- may yet scuttle the deal. The dominant Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency which manages the Pacific Northwest's huge dams and sprawling transmission lines, is balking, saying it simply doesn't have enough dependable low-cost hydropower to promise the Intalco plant.

The deadlock over electricity is yet one more indication of how difficult it is to expand the U.S. supply chain and bring American industries back home.

Sources: Bellingham Herald files, Alcoa Intalco Works

Staff has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.
BPA is Balking, Lobbyists Gonna Lobby
The Stand, June 8, 2022

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