By: Heidi Brock
President of the Aluminum Association
The Wall Street Journal missed the mark on aluminum's strong future.
In the article, "States Cut Special Deals for Aluminum Plants", published on October 5, the Journal appears to be misled by fluctuations in global aluminum prices. What the article fails to mention is that the outlook for aluminum solutions in many major markets has never looked better. Global demand for aluminum is growing at 7 percent per year and domestic demand is up 30 percent since 2009. Our industry also knows that we can't satisfy the demand for aluminum without our domestic smelters.
The Journal goes out of its way to imply that the industry is seeking preferential treatment from electric utilities. In fact, these facilities are managing the short-term storm of an unfavorable market and are working in partnership with their communities to come to equitable agreements on rates that keep jobs in place for the long term.
The primary aluminum sector is a key part of the nation's energy grid. Aluminum smelters require large amounts of energy, and this demand provides utilities with a highly sought-after dependable customer. This customer reliability gives utilities a steady baseline electricity load that enables them to make long-term investments in an otherwise turbulent economy.
Globally competitive power needs to be sustainable not only for the good of the aluminum industry, but for the betterment of all manufacturers. Like all manufacturers operating in the United States, the aluminum industry is dealing with inconsistent energy prices, an aging power grid, and increased electricity demand in many markets. U.S. aluminum producers have responded to these challenges with continuous innovation and increased efficiency.
Aluminum is an integral part of the US economy. The industry provides Americans with good paying jobs to support families. The average aluminum annual salary nationwide is $56,000, well above the national average of $43,000. A forthcoming report by John Dunham &Associates on the aluminum industry shows that it generates tens of billions of dollars in output and supports more than half-a-million jobs nationwide. This is an industry with plenty of economic mettle.
The Aluminum Association, based in Arlington, Virginia, works globally to aggressively promote aluminum as the most sustainable and recyclable automotive, packaging and construction material in today's market. The Association represents U.S. and foreign-based primary producers of aluminum, aluminum recyclers and producers of fabricated products, as well as industry suppliers. Member companies operate approximately 180 plants in the United States, with many conducting business worldwide. For more information visit www.Aluminum.org, on Twitter @AluminumNews or Facebook.com/AluminumAssociation.