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Easley Signs Bill to Study Yadkin Power Project

August 1, 2008

By Josh McCann, Independent Tribune, Concord, N.C.

Jul. 31–Gov. Mike Easley has signed a bill directing state lawmakers to study a private power company’s request to continue operating a hydroelectric project on the Yadkin River.

Easley approved the bill as expected this week, clearing the way for the General Assembly’s Environmental Review Commission to examine Alcoa Power Generating Inc.’s application to federal regulators.

A subsidiary of aluminum producer Alcoa, APGI wants a 50-year renewal of its license to generate power and more than $8 million in annual profits from four dams and reservoirs along a 38-mile stretch of the river.

Stanly County officials have opposed Alcoa’s application, arguing the company no longer operates in the public interest and should not be allowed to profit so substantially from a public natural resource.

Alcoa fought an earlier version of the bill that explicitly directed a special commission to consider seizing the dams to create a public power authority.

Company representatives and Stanly officials then met and agreed to a compromise that legislators unanimously approved earlier this month.

The commission — a standing, bipartisan body of legislators from around the state — is to report by Feb. 1 on the following issues:

–The socioeconomic impacts of Alcoa’s decision to close a smelting plant that used low-cost power from the Yadkin and once provided about 1,000 jobs in the Stanly County town of Badin,

–assurance of an adequate, clean future water supply for the region, and

–the allocation of water from the project for non-power uses.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Independent Tribune, Concord, N.C.

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