Friday, August 07, 2009

Yadkin River Trust bill defeated

The Yadkin River Trust bill might momentarily have been on a fast track, but it led straight to defeat in the House last night on a 39-66 vote a little after 10 p.m. Here's text of AP's story this morning:

RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue's administration lost a battle in its struggle to win a federal license to operate a series of dams Alcoa Inc. controlled for decades.
The state House voted 66-39 on Thursday to reject creating a state corporation that would acquire and control the four dams on the Yadkin River.
Perdue's administration is fighting Alcoa's effort to renew a federal license it held since 1958 to operate the dams, which powered an aluminum plant that once employed hundreds. The plant is closed, but Alcoa earns millions of dollars selling the electricity.
Alcoa's opponents say another big issue is who will control the water supplying 2 million residents for decades.

2 p.m. addition: David Kochman, spokesperson for Gov. Bev Perdue, notes that the vote of the House does not affect the governor's intervention in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission case and her opposition to a new license for Alcoa. If the license is denied, there will still be a process to figure out what happens to the hydro dams and the other issues involved in this case, he said. He is right, though the attorney general's office told a House committee not long ago that it would be helpful in challenging the license renewal in Washington if the legislature approved the Yadkin River Trust bill.

12:30 p.m. addition from Alcoa spokesman Gene Ellis:

"Legislators sent a clear message that they do not support the taking of private business. The more they learned about this issue, it became evident that passing this legislation would set a dangerous precedent for North Carolina. We appreciate the strong support of the N.C. House and remain committed to fighting any future efforts by Gov. Perdue to take our business against our will."

Also: Alcoa responds to assertions made in an Observer editorial that appeared Thursday. In remarks attributed to Ellis, the company quoted from the editorial (lines marked in quotations) and responded in the sections marked with an asterisk:

“Alcoa won it (the license) in 1958 under the Federal Power Act.”

* Alcoa began operating these dams in 1915, more than 40 years before it received the license in 1958. Under North Carolina law, Alcoa has riparian rights that allow for the “reasonable use” of water that crosses its property. The generation of clean, renewable energy is a reasonable use.

“The Yadkin’s waters belong to the public and their use should benefit this state.”

* Alcoa doesn’t claim to own the water, and its hydro operations don’t consume the water. The water isn’t valuable as a fuel source without the dams that Alcoa built.

“If Alcoa did not win a new license at the end of the 50-year term, Congress could in effect buy the hydroelectric project from the company.”

* There is a takeover clause that gives the federal government the right to take over the project. But the federal government hasn’t expressed any interest in taking the Yadkin Project, and the time for recapture passed nearly three years ago. The federal government has never taken over a project in US history.

“Alcoa has a federal license to operate an unregulated utility.” “It sells the power it generates on the open market, free of regulation that applies to other utilities such as Duke Energy and Progress Energy”

*Alcoa’s hydro operations are highly regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The only difference between Alcoa and the public utilities is the oversight the Public Utilities Commission provides because Duke and Progress sell into the retail market vs. the wholesale. No one has ever said what they would have Alcoa do differently if it were regulated by the state.

“. . .there are troubling reports of high levels of contaminants in the water of Badin lake related to the smelter.”

Highlights from Dr. David Glaser’s report (on PCBs in fish) include:

· PCB data has been collected on fish in Badin Lake, other North Carolina reservoirs and other reservoirs around the United States.

· The PCB concentrations in fish in Badin Lake are very similar to or identical with fish collected by EPA in the National Lake Fish Tissue study from other North Carolina reservoirs.


Anonymous said...

I could say that "I told you so" but that would be immature. So, Ill say, "I have been telling you so for a while now".

Can the Observer please stop printing and reporting this garbage? Is there anyone out there that thought this was actually going to happen?

Anonymous said...

Well, it did pass the Senate with a 44-4 vote. That was pretty decisive. Not that it matters much now.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you Bev Perdue for raising our taxes. Now we are one of the highest taxed states in the union. This IS BS!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This bill came from the same Senate Committee that is intent on undermining the Environmental Management Commission for their own political purposes regardless if it is related to hog farms or water.

Anonymous said...

Finally the members of the House of Representatives injected sanity into this travesty.
If Dennis, Dick, Myers and Dunevant had integrity they would recognize that Stanly County should move on. They have spent $1 M of their neighbors' money while schoolteachers were laid off in local schools and their school lunchroom programs hung on by a thread.
Dennis and Dunevant should resign from the County commission to be replaced by individuals who are not hostile to private ownwersip of comapany assets, Dick should go back to financing mediocre restaurants owned by his cronies and Myers should go back to where he came from.
This vote will allow the County to move on from the culture of corruption, lies and special influence that dominates it and allow it to rebuild itself from the ground up.

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