Thursday, August 06, 2009

Yadkin River bill on a fast track

My friend Joyce Fitzpatrick passes along this blogpost from Alcoa spokesman Gene Ellis about the sudden and rapid moves in the legislature to pass a Yadkin River Trust Bill to take over Alcoa Power Generating's hydroelectric dams on the Yadkin River. Here's the text:

You never know what’s going to happen when you’re at the legislature. And Wednesday was one of the most surreal days I’ve ever experienced.
One week after a N.C. House Committee voted against a government takeover of the Alcoa’s Yadkin Hydroelectric Project, that same committee resurrected the bill and voted 8-7 to support an unprecedented government takeover that could cost North Carolina taxpayers more than $500 million.
The House Water Resources & Infrastructure Committee narrowly approved Senate Bill 967 despite the anticipated cost and strong opposition from lakefront homeowners, property rights advocates and local officials in Stanly County.
Within hours, Sen. Fletcher Hartsell began maneuvering the bill for a quick passage in both chambers. He amended an existing bill (House Bill 1099) to include the essence of SB 967 that creates the Yadkin Trust. The bill passed the Senate and was sent by special delivery to the House for a floor vote that could occur as early as tomorrow, effectively bypassing the House Public Utilities and House Finance committees.
At the same time, SB 967 was referred to the House Public Utilities Commission for a hearing on Thursday at 10am. This essentially gives the bill's supporters two different cracks at passing the Yadkin Trust bill. If SB 967 is defeated in committee, the full House can still pass HB 1099.
“Sen. Hartsell pulled out all the stops today. It looks like he’s willing to do whatever it takes to take away the business we started here in 1915,” said Gene Ellis, a spokesman for Alcoa. “Frankly, we’re stunned that this important legislation is being rammed through the legislature. This is a complex issue with far-reaching implications and it deserves a fair hearing.”
Alcoa will continue fighting to keep the Yadkin Project, which has generated clean, renewable energy in North Carolina for nearly 100 years. It is important to remember that regardless of what happens in the North Carolina legislature, only the federal government can consider a takeover of the Yadkin Project, Ellis said.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has all of the information it needs to issue a new long-term license for the Yadkin Project. FERC staff has already dismissed the possibility of a government takeover and recommended issuing a new license to Alcoa.


Anonymous said...

Does Alcoa think NC citizens are stupid? We have the facts in hand and we know that the $500m taxpayer bill is a joke. There is specific literature where Alcoa acknowledges a net value for the project less than $25m. AND, commerce has a business plan that would create this state trust without any tax bill to our citizens. I wish media would stop printing Alcoa's $500m scare tactic!

Anonymous said...


Steve said...

I thought Fletcher was a Republican. The politics of this is really weird.

The Observer still hasn't sorted out for us who's behind what and why. The Badin area folks are against the move, but the county government, the Republican state senator, and the Democrat governor are all for it. None of the rhetoric seems to suggest why. The state controls the water use either way, so that one is a red herring. Maybe somebody is going to make big bucks off of developing land now held by Alcoa, and the county will improve their tax base? The status quo would seem to have less adverse environmental impact than development, so I can't see green folk favoring this, unless their commitment to socialism outweighs the environment.

It just gets curiouser and curiouser.

Big D said...

This is not about water quality, water rights, but WATER FRONT property. This began 15 years ago with one man's plan to acquire the land, and develop it. The plans for the development were drawn up, but it didn't go through as planned. The Sec of Commerce is a personal friend of this acquirer. A Charlotte developer, builders, real estate people, etc are drooling. Why the Guv got involved is up for speculation. I am not an "Alcoan" but someone who doesn't want this land to be raped and scraped.

Anonymous said...

Badin's mayor and many of those still living within the town are former Alcoa employees. Their allegiance is therefore to the multi-national firm. Additionally, the Town of Badin AND the Town of Albemarle signed the Licensing Agreement with Alcoa before the issues of pollution, job losses, and water rights were even raised, and would thereby be required to honor (and publicly support) the signed agreement. The county, who brought up the issues in the first place and never signed the agreement, hopes that acquiring the project would allow the use of hydro-electric revenues to fund economic development, pollution remediation (Toxic PCBs found in Badin Lake fish have been linked to Alcoa waste in a report released earlier this week), and recreational facilities. Additionally, it is a matter of principle that the state be able to manage and utilize it's own resources, especially when allowed by law, for the benefit of it's own people and not for the profit of a shareholder owned corporation with no interests in the area.

Your bipartisan support is due to the fact that most all legislators who read the law and the property agreement signed by Alcoa in 1958 allowing for the governmental purchase of the project and it's property realize that it would be bone headed not to utilize this asset for our own citizens, especially in a time of economic downturn. Although it may seem surprising that republicans have supported the bill, you must understand that once you read the Licensing Agreement it becomes obvious that Alcoa does not own the property indefinitely like you or I do our homes, but only conditionally until the federal government determines that Alcoa’s use of the public water no longer is in the best interest of the public. If this becomes the case, U.S. Governmental law regulates how the sale price is determined, and Alcoa does not have the option to not sale. While it is not good PR in this instance for Alcoa to admit it, they have already signed an agreement to this in 1958, and must sign again to acquire this new license. This agreement is not unique to Alcoa and the Yadkin river. It is signed by every single hydro-electric operator (license holder) in the United States, whether your name is Niagara Power Company or the TVA.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jack,

Explain how this is any different from Hugo Chavez taking over private companies in Venezuela.

Anonymous said...

In Venezuela, (or any country) you buy a house and the government takes it away, your property rights have been violated.

Now suppose it is 1958 and you are Alcoa. You say, "Ok feds, if I don't use this piece of property the way that I have been licensed to do so (For electricity to run a factory and provide jobs) then you can have it back in 50 years as long as you pay for all losses on my books due to recent property investments, especially since I think 50 years is enough time to pay for the property and make some extra cash along the way." Then, you say, "In fact, if you grant me this license, I will even sign a legal document allowing you to buy my property after 50 years, even if I change my mind because I have become greedy and no longer use it in a manor that is also beneficial to my fellow Americans as you have asked me to do."

Then your property rights have not been violated, you have only been asked to honor a previous legal agreement.

To anyone scared about the setting of a precedent that may soon mean some one is going to come get your house, then ask yourself... "Did I tell them when I bought it that they could come get it after 50 years?" If not, then rest assured, no one is coming for your house.

I think Alcoa either has a bad memory, or some pretty heavy corporate greed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bev for raising the sales tax. You have made my decision to move to SC that much easier.....Maybe the good people of NC will realize what a LOSER you are and vote you out of office.

Anonymous said...

Little Miss Bev Perdon't is hopefully going to continue on her path to self de-election through the wonderful ideas of creative financing for our Great North State. Why did she make our State Workers bear the burden of paying our state's debts instead of making all of us pitch into the pot. The debts of our state should be equally paid by us all, not a few state employees. Their families need a stable paycheck to make ends meet just like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

The Aug 6 11:18 Anonymous comment reflects a lack of knowledge of the situation. When the FERC form was filed in 2005, Alcoa did report the Net Asset Value do be $24 million. However that is a dynamic value, and due to significant investments made over the past 3 years, that number is now well over $90 million. AND the FPA clearly states that severance damages are to be added to that Net Asset VAlue. AND 90 year old assets require huge investment over the next 5 - 8 years. Hence: over half a billion dollars cost to taxpayers.

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