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.