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We pay for cheap aluminum

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Dear HCN,


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.





Noel Eberz


Flagstaff, Arizona


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