Washington Aluminum Plant celebrates 60 years in Wenatchee

The growth of data centers in the Northwest takes advantage of low cost power that the Aluminum industry used.  Seattletimes publishes an AP article that discusses  the 60 years of one Alcoa plant.

Today, just two plants remain - but one of them celebrates its 60th anniversary Saturday with an open house and an idle plant in Montana is considering a restart thanks in part to abundant power supplies.

It is interesting to know that at one time 40 percent of the USA's aluminum came from 10 plants in the NW.

The Pacific Northwest aluminum industry supplied roughly 40 percent of the nation's aluminum in its heyday in the 1980s, with 10 plants producing the pliable, lightweight metal for everything from war planes to soda cans.

140 MW is available to restart one plant.

In Columbia Falls, Mont., an idle plant is considering a restart, according to the Bonneville Power Administration, the Portland, Ore.-based federal agency that manages much of the Northwest power grid.

Columbia Falls Aluminum, located near the Hungry Horse Dam in northwest Montana, laid off nearly 90 workers when it closed at the end of October 2009.

BPA has told the company it can provide 140 average megawatts of power each year, spokesman Michael Hansen said, which is roughly enough power for two pot lines to operate.

Here is the website for the 60 year old plant in Wenatchee.


Construction of Alcoa Wenatchee Works began in May, 1951. The smelting plant, where alumina, or aluminum ore, is reduced to metal, was constructed as a direct result of a request from the Office of Defense Mobilization to increase the domestic production of aluminum in a defense oriented economy.

Alcoa Wenatchee Works opened in 1952. The Wenatchee Works was the first smelter to be built In the Pacific Northwest in the post World War 2 period and the first plant of this type built with private capital in the area since before the war.

Wenatchee Works is located eleven miles south of the city of Wenatchee, Chelan County, Washington, and one and one half miles above Rock Island Dam, the first dam built on the Columbia River. The entire site covers more than 2,700 acres, excluding some 1,700 acres of orchard land donated to Washington State University In 1972. The plant itself covers 100 acres adjacent to the Columbia River.

Here is the dam that the power comes from.