We pay for cheap aluminum
While the aluminum vs. dams article (HCN, 2/7/94) was good it was short of basic information: what the aluminum industry pays for power. People can understand grazing fees - try to get a horse fed for $3 per month or pay for patent land at $5 per acre - but we should know what electricity is worth per unit. Most of us pay about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour. What the article failed to say is what they pay.
I have not seen their books, but my chemistry book says: It takes about 35 kilowatt-hours to make a pound of aluminum. So if they only get 50 cents per pound for their product (you only get 20 cents/pound on recycle) that means they probably pay about 1 cent per kilowatt-hour or only one-tenth what we do for electricity. No subsidy can justify that much, and you can bet a private power company wouldn't give away power at that rate. It might be amusing to calculate what it costs us to save one of those aluminum industry jobs.