Missoulian: Tester urges long-term contract between Columbia Falls Aluminum, BPA

KALISPELL – In hopes of moving along negotiations between Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. and the Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester on Monday urged a long-term energy agreement that would restore jobs to the shuttered plant.

Columbia Falls Aluminum shut down at the end of October 2009, forcing layoffs of nearly 90 workers as high energy prices made operations unprofitable.

In a letter to BPA Administrator Stephen J. Wright, the Democratic senator implored the agency to “finalize a contract before the end of the year, so the plant can return to production in the New Year and we can return our economy to its full power.”

Tester cited the potential for as many as 350 jobs with good wages if the yearlong negotiations are brought to a successful close.

“This recession has hammered the Flathead Valley with double-digit unemployment and job losses in core industries,” Tester wrote in the letter. “Reopening the CFAC plant could create as many as 350 good-paying jobs in the Flathead Valley. I urge you to work swiftly and flexibly to ensure that a power contract is signed … to bring these jobs back to the Treasure State.”

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