BPA Decision on Smelter Contracts
by Erik Olson
By the end of January, the Bonneville Power Administration will decide on long-term power contracts for two Northwest aluminum smelters, said Scott Simms, a spokesman for the federal agency.
The contracts could raise power costs for Cowlitz County industries.
Alcoa's Intalco Works plant in Ferndale could receive rate breaks as high as 40 percent for 17 years beginning in 2012 when the current power-sales contract expires.
The BPA also is reworking a second contract with the Montana-based Columbia Falls Aluminum Co.
Unlike other industrial customers, smelters buy power directly from the BPA, which means changes in their rates have a potentially bigger impact on other industries. Weyerhaeuser Co., Cowlitz County's largest industrial customer, estimates it could see a jump of $42 million in power costs under the proposed agreement over the life of the contract.
The BPA closed its public comment period on the proposal Dec. 22. The agency is in the middle of revising its current power sales contracts with the smelters because of a recent court decision, Simms said.
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