On May 1, 2017, Chelan County PUD commissioners agreed to a requested change in the power contract with Alcoa Corp. that the company says will preserve the opportunity to further consider restarting its aluminum smelter located south of Wenatchee. Alcoa’s $7.3 million partial payment, which includes a charge for being able to “buy time,” was recommended by staff and provides that the one-year deferral on the balance will keep the financial impact neutral for PUD customer owners.
Board members took the action after reviewing staff analysis, discussing comments gathered from the community and Alcoa workers, and confirming with Alcoa and union representatives that workers will not lose any benefits if part of the $67 million payment due in June is deferred.
Kelley Woodard, Wenatchee Aluminum Trades Council president, thanked PUD commissioners for the District’s support over the years of continued plant operations. “My goal is to get the plant restarted and get my members back to work. I think this gives us the best chance to make that happen … so I’m in favor.”
After approving the amendment, Commissioner Ann Congdon said the union’s support for the approach of paying a portion now and deferring the balance of the payment a year was key. “I had reservations, but based on what Kelley said, and that he supports it, because of that I did vote ‘yes.’ “
Michael Padgett, Alcoa senior vice president for energy, updated PUD board members on the company’s positive earnings for the first quarter of 2017, that the worldwide surplus of aluminum is smaller and that the Trump administration launched a recent inquiry into unfair trade practices in the global aluminum market.