(snip) An angry Energy Secretary Bill Richardson blasted Kaiser Aluminum Corp. this week for deciding to shut down its Pacific Northwest operations so it can resell at high market rates federally subsidized electricity it previously purchased from the Bonneville Power Administration.
Kaiser announced Sunday that its operating subsidiary, Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp., would shut down 90,000 metric tons of smelting capacity for 10 months so that it can sell its December BPA power on the spot market.
Kaiser's remarketing of power purchased under its BPA contract for December netted the company $52 million.
The announcement followed a similar move last month, and results in the idling of all the company's smelter capacity in the region. The company said it will keep the smelters off-line until October, when its new five-year power contract with Bonneville takes effect.
In a statement issued late Monday, Richardson said Kaiser is taking advantage of high market rates at the expense of its employees, and instructed DOE and Bonneville officials "to explore all necessary actions to prevent Kaiser from remarketing" BPA power.
"While Kaiser will make millions from the use of a federal resource, I am concerned that this is coming at the expense of employees that will be out of work and [who] may not be fully compensated," Richardson said.
In its statement, Kaiser defended its move, saying the power-starved Pacific Northwest desperately needs the electricity it sold and plans to sell back into the market. (end)