With Alcoa, NYPA 3-year deal coming to end, Sen. Schumer urging new agreement to keep jobs in Massena
Friday, March 15, 2019 - 10:02 am

MASSENA -- U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the New York State Power Authority (NYPA) and Alcoa to reach an agreement that will allow Alcoa to continue accessing low-cost clean and renewable electricity from the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project for its smelting operations.

Schumer said that the previous agreement is set to expire March 31. Schumer also pushed for low-cost, predictable and clean energy deals between NYPA and Alcoa.

Schumer said that Alcoa, which is one of the largest aluminum producers in the United States, employs hundreds at its smelting facility in Massena. Schumer called on the NYPA and Alcoa to reach a final agreement as quickly as possible, to protect hundreds of good-paying jobs in St. Lawrence County for years to come.

“The Alcoa aluminum smelting facility in Massena is the very heart and soul of the North Country and provides hundreds of good-paying jobs in St. Lawrence County. As Alcoa’s agreement to receive power from the NYPA is imminently approaching its deadline on March 31st, the potentially devastating impacts of its expiration are too great to not immediately come to a new agreement,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why today, I’m urging the NYPA and Alcoa to reach a new agreement ASAP, to continue their fruitful partnership and maintain hundreds of crucial North Country jobs. I was proud to help facilitate the 2015 agreement between Alcoa and the NYPA, as well as agreements prior to that under other governors, and believe we can reach a similar outcome again, to ensure that the Alcoa Massena facility is productive and able to thrive for years to come.”

Schumer explained that in November 2015, Alcoa suddenly announced plans to curtail their aluminum smelting facility and lay off 480 people associated with that work in Massena. Recognizing the damage that such a move would have on the North Country economy, Schumer and Governor Cuomo began negotiating a deal which included $30 million in low-cost electricity from NYPA along with operational and capital support from the state. Schumer explained that in exchange for the low-cost electricity, Alcoa promised to maintain at least 600 jobs in Massena for at least three and a half years. Schumer noted that as the expiration of the deal approaches, he has received assurances that NYPA is committed to continuing its fruitful partnership with Alcoa.

Schumer said that since the signing of the previous agreement in 2015, Alcoa Inc. split into two publicly traded companies – Alcoa Corp. and Arconic. Schumer explained that recently, NYPA reached a ten-year agreement with Arconic to retain 145 jobs, and added that he hopes a similar deal will be reached with Alcoa to maintain its 450+ jobs. Schumer stated that low-cost power generated from the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project makes Massena an ideal location for energy-intensive industries like aluminum smelting.

Alcoa employs over 450 workers in Massena.

A copy of Schumer’s letter to the NYPA appears below.

“I write in support of efforts by the New York State Power Authority (NYPA) to reach an agreement that will allow Alcoa Corp. to continue accessing low-cost electricity from the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project for its smelting operations in Massena, NY. With the current pact – that I helped negotiate with Governor Cuomo and NYPA – set to expire on March 31, 2019, my office has been in close contact with Alcoa and NYPA and it appears that both entities are committed to ensuring that hundreds of good paying jobs remain in St. Lawrence County for years to come.

“In November 2015, Alcoa suddenly announced plans to curtail their aluminum smelting facility and lay off 480 people associated with that work in Massena. Recognizing the damage such a move would inflict on the North Country economy, I worked closely with New York state and Governor Cuomo to negotiate a deal which included $30 million in low-cost electricity from NYPA along with operational and capital support from the state. In exchange, Alcoa would maintain at least 600 jobs in Massena for at least three and a half years. As the expiration of that deal approaches, I have received assurances that NYPA and Alcoa are committed to continuing this partnership, but both entities must now work assiduously to see that a constructive deal is forged before the looming deadline.

“Since the signing of the agreement, Alcoa Inc. split into two publicly traded companies – Alcoa Corp. and Arconic. I applaud NYPA for recently reaching a ten-year deal with Arconic that will retain 145 jobs long term and share optimism that a similar deal will be reached with Alcoa to maintain its 450-plus jobs. As you know, clean and renewable power generated from the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project makes Massena an ideal location for energy intensive industries like aluminum smelting.

Alcoa is central to the North Country’s economy and its local workforce is second to none. I was fortunate enough to witness firsthand the joy of the local community and workforce after the deal to preserve jobs in Massena was announced in 2015. Having worked closely with multiple New York administrations to forge previous deals with the company, I am aware you are working diligently towards a similar outcome during present negotiations and thank you for your determination and leadership.