Democratic gubernatorial nominee and current N.C. Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue has asked federal regulators to delay a pending relicensing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) filed by Alcoa, Inc. for renewal of a 50-year license to govern and sustain ownership of the water flowing from the Yadkin River, one of the longest rivers in North Carolina. In a letter sent Tuesday, June 3, 2008, to Joseph T. Kelliher, Chairman of the Office of Energy Projects for FERC, Lt. Gov. Perdue asked FERC not to grant Alcoa a new 50-year license "until state policy makers have had an opportunity to fully vet these issues and determine the most appropriate course of action."
Perdue’s request falls in line with the position of Gov. Mike Easley, who issued a similar letter to the FERC on April 4, as well as the Stanly County Commissioners, each of which have been outspoken concerning the future of the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project. It is the position of the Stanly County Commissioners that the best way to provide for the future of the Yadkin River is for the State of North Carolina and its public to be the undisputed owner of the Project.
Alcoa first obtained a 50-year license in 1958 to oversee what is known as the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project, comprised of four hydroelectric stations, dams and reservoirs along a 38-mile stretch of the Yadkin River in central North Carolina. The four water reservoirs are High Rock, Tuckertown, Narrows and Falls. The Yadkin-Pee Dee Watershed as a whole includes 21counties and contains 93 state municipalities. The 1958 license to Alcoa expired on April 30, 2008, but the FERC granted a one-year extension to Alcoa.
Stanly County Commissioner Lindsey Dunevant made the following comment:
"We thank Lt. Gov. Perdue for being the latest major official for a governing body in North Carolina to speak out about the crucial issues of water rights involved in this situation. The Yadkin River is an important water resource for the public, and determining its future will have a primary impact on the health and safety of those families who live near it as well as use it for drinking and recreational purposes."
The text of Lt. Gov. Perdue’s letter immediately follows this release.
About Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue:
Prior to first being elected North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor in 2000, Perdue served in the N.C. House of Representatives for two terms and the N.C. Senate for five terms. In May 2008 she won the nomination to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for governor. A former public school teacher and a former director of geriatrics at a community hospital, Perdue is married to Bob Eaves and has two sons, Garrett and Emmett. For more information, visit http://www.ltgov.state.nc.us.
About This Effort:
In 1958, Alcoa, the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum, secured a federal hydroelectric license for the Yadkin Project on the Yadkin River in Stanly, Davidson, Montgomery and Rowan Counties in the Central Piedmont. In return, Alcoa promised aluminum manufacturing jobs for Stanly County for years to come. Alcoa has now essentially disappeared as a major employer in the region and shut down its manufacturing plants, but it wants to continue reaping the benefits of the Yadkin River after its license expires. In addition, Alcoa discharged hazardous pollutants into North Carolina air and waterways for decades while harvesting immense profits from the Yadkin River, but has yet to finish cleaning up that contamination. It has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to obtain another 50-year license. If Alcoa is successful, one of North Carolina’s most valuable water resources will be used to maximize Alcoa’s profits, instead of being used to benefit the people of North Carolina, who themselves are in dire need of affordable electricity, local economic development, and clean, adequate drinking water.
MMI Associates, Inc.
PR Firms Raleigh, NC
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June 3, 2008
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
c/o Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary and
Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary
888 First Street, NE
Washington, D.C. 20426
Re: Project No. 2197 (Yadkin Project Relicensing)
Dear Chairmen Kelliher and Commissioners:
This letter is to request your assistance in connection with the application of Alcoa Power Generating, Inc. pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The company currently seeks renewal of its license to generate electricity at facilities on the Yadkin River in North Carolina’s Stanly County.
While a Relicensing Settlement Agreement in connection with the application has been signed by some of the affected parties, there are several of significant issues of concern -- both economic and environmental -- that have been since raised by communities with close ties to Alcoa and its hydroelectric facilities that merit further review and examination before another 50-year franchise is granted.
As I am sure you are aware, the relationship of Alcoa and its dams to the Yadkin River and the communities along it has changed dramatically in recent years. The company’s aluminum smelter in Badin, North Carolina, which had employed close to 1000 local residents and for which the dams were originally built to supply power, closed recently and will not be reopened. The company proposes to continue operation of its hydropower facilities, but the balance of private versus public benefit associated with operation of the dams in these communities is now significantly different than it was when the dams were first licensed. And, of course, once a new license is in place, such issues will not likely be revisited for generations to come.
I believe under these circumstances that public interest would be best served by allowing a sufficient delay in the relicensing process to enable the concerns of the communities to be fully considered and addressed before another 50-year license is granted. The issue is ultimately one of the appropriate terms under which private use of a public resource should be permitted.
I understand that Alcoa had withdrawn its application for a 401 water quality certification from the State of North Carolina and resubmitted another application. This action will provide state regulators additional time to evaluate the environmental issues that have been raised by many citizens and local governments along the Yadkin River; however, that time will not necessarily enable North Carolina, as a state, to consider the most appropriate economic use of this public resource.
Accordingly, I respectfully urge the Commission not to grant a new 50-year license until state policy makers have had an opportunity to fully vet these issues and determine the most appropriate course of action. I know Governor Easley has made a similar request and look forward to working with his office in that regard.
I appreciate your consideration and ask that this request and this correspondence be included as part of the official proceedings in this matter and in the Commission’s public files.
Beverly Eaves Perdue
North Carolina Lt. Governor Beverly Perdue Calls on FERC to Delay Alcoa Relicensing
Company: MMI ASSOCIATES, INC.
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