Under the Dome

House to consider Yadkin dams study

The House will consider studying the future of Yadkin River dams today.

A bill sponsored by Concord Republican Rep. Fletcher Hartsell would direct the state Environmental Review Commission to look into the renewal of a 50-year federal license on a hydroelectric power projects in Stanly County.

The dams were first licensed in the 1950s to allow Alcoa Inc. to generate power for a nearby aluminum plant. With the plant no longer in operation, the multinational company has been reselling the power on the open market.

"There's no benefit to the people of North Carolina," argued Bruce Thompson, a lobbyist working for the bill's passage. He estimated the company makes $45 million a year from reselling the power.

A provision to allow the state to study taking over the dams for a local power authority was inserted into the budget, then taken out.

The bill does not mention a takeover, instead directing the Environmental Review Commission to consider the "socioeconomic impacts" of the aluminum plant closure, the need for a "clean future water supply" and other water uses.

A spokesman for Alcoa said they do not oppose the study bill because it makes no mention of a takeover. 

"We recognize the growing importance of water issues in North Carolina, and welcome the opportunity to work with the state to protect its water interests along the Yadkin River," said Gene Ellis in a statement.

The commission's report would be turned into the legislature by Feb. 1.


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Re: House to consider Yadkin dams study

...and ALCOA could not have built the dams in the first place if the local residents, through the government, had not allowed them to do so. ALCOA may have financed the building of the dams, but the local citizens provided the workforce to make the actual construction possible. Still, in the event of a takeover, ALCOA would be compensated for existing infrastructure.

ALCOA has decided to close down the large aluminum plant that was the main employer for the town of Badin in Stanly county. Why should they be able to exploit the local resources without passing along the benefits in the form of employment to the local citizens? Stanly county has already been hurt by the closing of the mills, so the closing of the ALCOA plant is not insignificant.

Re: House to consider Yadkin dams study

Chico, you wouldn't have that lovely lakefront property (or the lake) if ALCOA hadn't built the dams in the first place.

I believe ALCOA does owe more to the state and the local people, but if the state decides to "take over" these renewable energy hydroelectric power sources, it could cause other (private) companies to think twice before investing in and building alternative power generation projects.

Re: House to consider Yadkin dams study

The Yadkin and its water was created by God and it belongs to the people. No private company should be allowed to control it and the environment that it affects. We have a beautiful piece of waterfront property that we bought for our family to enjoy. This year the water level was so poor that we were not able to enjoy a full season because Alcoa keeps draining the lake to the point that there is no water left to enjoy without much hardship. When the water level is high it attracts a significant amount of people into these areas to spend their money. That is a win win for everyone. Alcoa just wants to fatten their pockets without accountibility. Poor little ducks, they have no bays left to protect their young! This is one time we need govenment intervention!

Re: House to consider Yadkin dams study

Why on God's green earth would we let Alcoa have control of the Yadkin River? Have we not learned anything from the drought? How come they can make 45 million $$ selling power - what does the state get for that? Smeone needs to find out why we are doing this.

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