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Schumer: Alcoa isn’t thinking about closing Massena operations

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MASSENA — While Alcoa has until December of 2015 to announce whether it will put more than $600 million into modernizing its facilities in Massena, Sen. Charles E. Schumer predicted this week that the manufacturer will commit to the north country for the long term.

“The expansion, the modernization is still happening,” Mr. Schumer said . “The expansion of jobs in the longer run is still committed, but they’ve slowed down the expansion of jobs in the west part of the plant.”

Mr. Schumer visited Watertown on Wednesday to speak about the future of Fort Drum, but during a question and answer session, Alcoa became a topic of discussion.

The senator called Alcoa’s Massena operations the company’s hope for the future.

“I’ve spoken to the head of Alcoa. They are not backtracking on the Alcoa East plan, because it provides the cheapest electricity that they have,” he said. “Cheaper than Washington state, cheaper than other large plants in other parts of the country. They still use this plant as their hope for the future.”

Mr. Schumer then explained why he believes Alcoa has decided closed its Massena East plant in the short term.

“The demand for aluminum has gone up, but the price continues to stay very low,” he said.

Mr. Schumer said he doesn’t want to company to make a poor economic decision, but simply keep its commitments to the region.

“We want them, when they grow, to make sure they grow here first, as they committed,” he said, referring to the agreement for a long-term supply for low-cost hydropower that Alcoa as with the state.

“Aluminum depends on electricity more than other products. The cost of electricity is major. They know they have a great workforce up there in Massena, and the cost of power has stayed low, so that has cushioned the blow,” Mr. Schumer said. “They’ve closed a whole bunch of plants. They’re not thinking about closing Massena.”

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