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N.C. Legislative Leaders Introduce Bipartisan State Bill Supporting Creation Of Yadkin River Trust

March 27, 2009

N.C. Water Rights Committee Commends Senate Majority And Minority Leaders For Supporting Measure Benefiting State’s Economic And Environmental Future

RALEIGH, N.C., March 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The N.C. Water Rights Committee (www.ncwaterrights.org) is commending the filing March 25 of Senate Bill 967 for the creation of the Yadkin River Trust by its sponsor, state Sen. Fletcher L. Hartsell, Jr. (R-Cabarrus), and co-sponsors N.C. Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand (D-Cumberland) and Senate Minority Leader Philip E. Berger (R-Guilford), as well as state Sens. Stan Bingham (R-Davidson), Daniel Clodfelter (D-Mecklenburg), William R. Purcell (D-Scotland) and Jerry W. Tillman (R-Randolph). The Yadkin River Trust is the same plan the N.C. Water Rights Committee proposed in January as the State Trust Concept, which calls for a Trust to own and manage the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project of North Carolina citizens.

The Yadkin River Trust addresses three key issues associated with relicensing the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project, which includes powerhouses and dams at the power at High Rock, Tuckertown, Narrows and Falls Reservoirs in Stanly, Davidson, Rowan and Montgomery counties: water control, job creation and environmental cleanup. It will honor aspects of the Relicensing Settlement Agreement (RSA) negotiated by local government and environmental groups in 2009, including water for the City of Albemarle, a comprehensive drought management plan (the “Low Inflow Protocol”), water quality improvements for the Yadkin, and new and expanded public recreation facilities.

However, the Trust will provide more benefits to North Carolina state residents than what the RSA proposes, including:

  • An assurance that the water of the Yadkin, which the public owns, will be valued for the benefit of all North Carolinians rather than exploited for profit. Under current law, should Alcoa Power Generating, Inc. (APGI) receive a 50-year license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the Project, it could sell the license for profit at any time to any company, including foreign interests, and all terms and power of the license for the Project would remain unchanged for its 50-year duration.
  • Priority consideration to local needs, with the intent of restoring and improving the environmental, economic and job considerations in and around the Yadkin River.
  • Power generated from the Project will be used for the benefit of the electricity consumers of North Carolina, not a multinational company answerable to no one in North Carolina.
  • All Alcoa properties in Stanly County will be tested for public health purposes.

The bill also establishes a Board of Directors of seven members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly to oversee the Yadkin River Trust and carry out its goals and activities. At least two of the directors will have substantial work experience within the operations of electric cooperatives or investor-owned utilities or substantial experience on an electric cooperative board or investor-owned utility board but must not serve as an employee or board member of an electric cooperative or investor-owned utility during their term as a director.

If approved by the state House and Senate in this session of the General Assembly, the bill would go to Gov. Bev Perdue for signing into law. Gov. Perdue has previously indicated her concerns about APGI’s ownership of the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project.

Currently APGI needs a 401 Water Quality Certification from the N.C. Division of Water Quality (DWQ) along with the FERC license in order to continue to operate the four dams in the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project as it has done since its first 50-year licensing from the FERC in 1958. The DWQ decision has been delayed at least until May due to a Feb. 11 study that found fish in Badin Lake had unsafe levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and has prompted further water quality tests to determine the origin and extent of the PCBs. If APGI receives a DWQ certification and the FERC license, it will have an exclusive monopoly on water rights to conduct hydroelectric operations on the upper Yadkin River for another 50 years, and the opportunity to make millions in profits selling electricity generated from waters belonging to North Carolina citizens.

Besides the N.C. Water Rights Committee, other groups on record as opposing APGI’s operation of the Project include the Stanly, Davidson, Randolph, Iredell, Anson, Cabarrus and Union County Boards of Commissioners, as well as the Centralina Council of Governments. The Yadkin Riverkeeper(R) and the N.C. Wildlife Federation have endorsed the State Trust Concept the N.C. Water Rights Committee proposed that has been adapted for this bill.

Quotes:

“This bill reflects the incredible support state leaders have for reasserting our water rights,” said Nancy McFarlane, president of the N.C. Water Rights Committee. “It speaks volumes that both the Republican Leader and Democratic Leader in the state Senate stand behind this measure, and even more, the co-sponsors represent a breadth of support for the Yadkin River Trust from Fayetteville to Charlotte. We greatly appreciate the efforts of legislators on both sides of the aisle who have backed this bill. We look forward to similar legislation being introduced in the state House and hope that the Trust will become law in this session of the General Assembly.”

    Media Contacts:
    Michelle Wingate
    MMI Associates, Inc.
    (919) 233-6600
    (919) 233-0300 (fax)
    michelle@mmimarketing.com

SOURCE The N.C. Water Rights Committee


Source: newswire



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