Jobs are Jobs
by Pat Flaherty
The Daily News, November 15, 2008
Unfortunately for your readers, the description by Erik Olson in "Energy deal sparks strong objection" (Nov. 7) is horribly inaccurate.
While Olson claims that the BPA proposal would result in a "deeply discounted" rate to Alcoa, and that "subsidizing energy rates for certain industries would have a very negative effect on the others," the facts are that neither of these is the result of the BPA proposal.
Under the proposal, BPA would sell to Alcoa about half of the power needed to operate its Intalco aluminum plant in Whatcom County at a rate that is currently about 3.5 cents per kwh. It would continue to sell power to Cowlitz PUD power to meet the entire load of industries in Cowlitz County at a rate that is currently about 2.6 cents/kwh.
So while BPA would continue to sell enough power to serve all the loads of Cowlitz County industries at a low rate, they are proposing to serve half the Intalco plant load at a higher rate. That is not a subsidy to Alcoa; that is a subsidy by Alcoa.
Jobs are important in Whatcom County as well as in Cowlitz County, and BPA should not deliberately pick sides by providing power for some jobs and not for others. Does Olson somehow conclude that Cowlitz County jobs are more important than Whatcom County jobs? BPA should sell power to both, and this proposal is a reasonable compromise for the Northwest.
Editor's note: The statement "subsidizing energy rates for certain industries would have a very negative effect on the others" was not made by Daily News reporter Erik Olson. Rather, it was a quote attributed to Ted Sprague, president of the Cowlitz Economic Development Council.
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