Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Revised Yadkin River Trust squeaks by committee

On a dramatic 8-7 vote, the House Water Resources and Infrastructure Committee approved a revised bill that would create a Yadkin River Trust to purchase and operate the Yadkin River hydroelectric plants for which Alcoa Power Generating Inc. is seeking a new federal license. A week ago, the bill stalled on an 8-6 vote, but the revised bill passed narrowly.

Now there's talk of putting the revised bill into Senate legislation as the legislature moves toward a close. There's lots happening on this. What's really interesting is that a few weeks ago House Speaker Joe Hackney wasn't sure if there'd be time in the closing days of the legislature to pass a version of the Senate-passed bill. Now it's closer to passage before the legislature adjourns.

That's quite a turnaround. Alcoa was oh-so-close to getting a renewal of its federal power license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission until a bipartisan group of legislators got interested in engineering what's called a recapture of the dams, as federal law allows. Gov. Bev Perdue opposes the license renewal too and has intervened in the federal case. Alcoa once employed about 1,000 workers here, but lost its best argument for renewal when the smelter at Badin shut down.

Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank and a power legislator who chairs the House Rules Committee and is an Appropriations co-chair, said thatlast year, he would not have voted for the bill, but he asked Alcoa officials a year ago to do something to provide more jobs in North Carolina. "They haven't done it," he said shortly before joining the majority to approve the bill in committee. Also voting for it was Chairman Cullie Tarleton, D-Watauga, a former Charlotte broadcaster. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, voted no.

Lots happening on this. Will post more when time permits.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling the story Mr. Betts! We need to protect our water. I applaud your courage for standing up to Alcoa and telling the truth

Anonymous said...

"This Broke State" broke state is voting to becoming even more broke? Thatll be the day! The state trumping federal authority? Thatll be the day!

This topic is a waste of effort and time - for the state and the observer to write about.

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