An outrageous request by Alcoa to make Victorians pay the Portland aluminium smelter’s electricity bills should be rejected by the state government, Environment Victoria has urged today. The warning comes as Alcoa has been ramping up its lobbying for a massive new subsidy ahead of the next State Budget.
Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham said today:
“The Portland aluminium smelter should pay its electricity bills like any other business.
“Alcoa made a poor business decision in 2010 to tie its future to polluting coal when it signed a contract for electricity supply with AGL for the Portland smelter.
“At the time both Alcoa and the Brumby Government assured Victorians that no further taxpayer subsidies would be needed when the current contract expires in 2016.
“Alcoa is now using the threat of closing the smelter to try to extract more cash out of the Andrews Government, despite the Portland smelter being one of the company’s more profitable smelters globally.
“In the wake of the Paris climate summit, which called for governments around the world to end fossil fuel subsidies, the Treasurer and Premier should rule out any assistance for Alcoa tied to paying its electricity bills.
“Signing a new contract to subsidise Alcoa would cost taxpayers billions of dollars in coming decades and dwarf the benefits of clean energy and climate change programs being developed by the Andrews Government.
“Locking in cheap, taxpayer-funded brown coal-fired power for Alcoa was what Victorian governments did in the 1970s, but it should be unthinkable in 2015.
“In 2010 The Age estimated that the state government had used taxpayers’ money to subsidise Alcoa to the tune of $4.5 billion since the smelters opened. The Portland smelter uses around 10 percent of the state’s electricity, which it sources from brown coal power stations in the Latrobe Valley.”