N.C. House Rejects Takeover of Alcoa Property In Decisive Vote
RALEIGH, N.C., Aug. 7 /PRNewswire/ — The N.C. House voted in overwhelming numbers to reject an unprecedented and costly government takeover of Alcoa’s hydroelectric business along the Yadkin River in central North Carolina. Senate Bill 967, sponsored by Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, failed in a floor vote by a wide margin, 66-39, with bipartisan support.
“Legislators sent a clear message that they do not support the taking of private business. The more they learned about this issue, it became evident that passing this legislation would set a dangerous precedent for North Carolina,” said Gene Ellis, an Alcoa spokesman. “We appreciate the strong support of the N.C. House and remain committed to fighting any future efforts by Gov. Perdue to take our business against our will.”
The bill would have established a state trust with the authority to seize the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project, a privately-owned business that has been generating clean renewable energy in North Carolina since 1915.
Legislators tried to quickly maneuver the bill through the General Assembly this week after the House Water Resources Committee reversed itself and voted the bill out of committee. The bill was heard twice Thursday by the House Public Utilities Committee, which passed the bill at a hastily called afternoon meeting. The bill then bypassed the House Finance Committee and was sent straight to the House floor.
Opponents of a state takeover -including lakefront homeowners, property rights advocates and local officials in Stanly County – expressed serious concerns about the proposed takeover this week. Their concerns included the potential cost to North Carolina taxpayers of $500 million or more; the fundamental violation of Alcoa’s private property rights; and the need to support the federal licensing process and the Relicensing Settlement Agreement that Alcoa reached with stakeholders.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the federal agency that regulates hydroelectric projects in the United States, has all of the information it needs to issue a new long-term license for the Yadkin Project. FERC staff has already recommended issuing a new license to Alcoa.
“We remain eager for a new license and look forward to implementing the many positive benefits included in the Relicensing Settlement Agreement,” Ellis said.
Under the terms of the relicensing agreement, Alcoa will continue to improve water quality in the Yadkin River; allow for increased water withdrawals by local municipalities; better protect the water supply when drought conditions are present; set aside thousands of acres for long-term land protection; create new parks, public swim areas and other recreation opportunities; provide more stable lake levels and a consistent downstream flow of water; and give homeowners more flexibility regarding shoreline development.