10-year power deal ensures jobs for 625 Alcoa workers

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FERNDALE (AP) -- A new, decade-long electric power supply deal is ensuring jobs for hundreds of aluminum smelter workers in Whatcom County.

The Bonneville Power Administration and Alcoa Intalco Works signed the contract Friday. The Bellingham Herald reports that the deal ends years of job uncertainty for 625 Alcoa workers.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Gov. Chris Gregoire and U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene were on hand as the agreement was signed.

Power supply disruptions led to the shutdown of most of the other aluminum smelters in the region over the past decade, and it idled Intalco for a time. Alcoa officials repeatedly warned that the smelter would have to close permanently without a contract guaranteeing long-term access to BPA's supply of low-cost hydropower.

In recent years, Intalco has been operating with shorter-term power contracts.