Friday, May 01, 2009

Battle of the Yadkin: Word skirmishes

Both sides in the Battle of the Yadkin fired Friday over a legislative proposal aimed at opposing the Alcoa Power Generating hydroelectric plants. First, this from the Water Right Committee, and then one from Gene Ellis, Alcoa's property manager here.

N.C. Senate Finance Committee Overwhelmingly Backs Bipartisan State Bill Endorsing Creation Of Yadkin River Trust
N.C. Water Rights Committee Commends Near-Unanimous Vote For Supporting Measure Benefiting State’s Economic And Environmental Future
RALEIGH, N.C. – The N.C. Water Rights Committee ( is commending the Senate Finance Committee for its overwhelming vote of 27-2 in favor of Senate Bill 967 for the creation of the Yadkin River Trust on April 29. The bill now moves to the full Senate for a final vote among all members. A similar bill is moving through the N.C. House.
Sponsored by state Sen. Fletcher L. Hartsell, Jr. (R-Cabarrus), the bill for the Yadkin River Trust is the same plan the N.C. Water Rights Committee proposed in January as the State Trust Concept, which calls for a Trust to own and manage the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project of North Carolina citizens. The Yadkin River Trust addresses three key issues associated with relicensing the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project, which includes powerhouses and dams at High Rock, Tuckertown, Narrows and Falls Reservoirs in Stanly, Davidson, Rowan and Montgomery counties: water control, job creation and environmental cleanup for the areas involved.
The Trust will honor aspects of the Relicensing Settlement Agreement (RSA) negotiated by local government and environmental groups in 2009, including water for the City of Albemarle, a comprehensive drought management plan (the “Low Inflow Protocol”), water quality improvements for the Yadkin, and new and expanded public recreation facilities. However, the Trust will provide more benefits to North Carolina state residents than what the RSA proposes, such as assurances that the license will not be sold for profit to any company, including foreign interests. The current license holder for the Project, Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI), has a working agreement with Chinalco, China’s state-owned metals and mining company, and should it receive another 50-year license for monopoly control of the Project through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which has received an application from APGI, the firm can easily sell the license to Chinalco or another entity for millions in profit while the terms of the license would transfer to the new owner without having to file a new federal application.
The bill also establishes a Board of Directors of seven members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly to oversee the Yadkin River Trust and carry out its goals and activities. At least two of the directors will have substantial work experience within the operations of electric cooperatives or investor-owned utilities or substantial experience on an electric cooperative board or investor-owned utility board but must not serve as an employee or board member of an electric cooperative or investor-owned utility during their term as a director.
If approved in this session of the General Assembly, the bill would go to Gov. Bev Perdue for signing into law. Gov. Perdue has previously indicated her concerns about APGI’s ownership of the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project. The FERC has allowed the governor to intervene in APGI’s license renewal and allow for the state to recapture its water rights, pending approval from the federal government.
Currently APGI needs a 401 Water Quality Certification from the N.C. Division of Water Quality (DWQ) along with the FERC license in order to continue to operate the four dams in the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project as it has done since its first 50-year licensing from the FERC in 1958. The DWQ decision has been delayed at least until May 7 due to a Feb. 11 study that found fish in Badin Lake had unsafe levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and has prompted further water quality tests to determine the origin and extent of the PCBs. If APGI receives a DWQ certification and the FERC license, it will have an exclusive monopoly on water rights to conduct hydroelectric operations on the upper Yadkin River for another 50 years, and the opportunity to make millions in profits selling electricity generated from waters belonging to North Carolina citizens.
Besides the N.C. Water Rights Committee, other groups on record as opposing APGI’s operation of the Project include the Stanly, Davidson, Randolph, Iredell, Anson, Cabarrus and Union County Boards of Commissioners, as well as the Centralina Council of Governments. The Yadkin Riverkeeper® and the N.C. Wildlife Federation have endorsed the State Trust Concept the N.C. Water Rights Committee proposed that has been adapted for this bill.

And there was this from Alcoa:

One day after Gov. Perdue announces furloughs, N.C. Senate considers spending $500 million to take Alcoa's private property
By Gene Ellis, Licensing and Property Manager, Alcoa Power Generating Inc.
I spent Wednesday afternoon down at the N.C. General Assembly, where the Senate Finance Committee approved legislation that would pave the way for the State of North Carolina to take our privately-owned dams along the Yadkin River.
Many of the Senators asked good questions. Fundamental questions like “Why do we need to do this?” and specific questions about how the state would operate a hydropower plant.
But no one raised the obvious question: How can our state legislators even contemplate spending $500 million of taxpayer money to take a privately-owned business ... just one day after Gov. Perdue announced mandatory unpaid furloughs for all state employees and school teachers?
North Carolina is facing a $3.2 billion budget shortfall and the pain is being felt by families across North Carolina. Our school teachers are being forced to sacrifice a portion of their salary… healthcare and education spending is being slashed … new taxes are being proposed. And yet no one seems to be overly concerned about the potential price tag that comes with a government takeover of Alcoa's dams.
Granted, there are a lot of different opinions about what a government takeover will really cost. Alcoa is confident that the cost would exceed $500 million, but even the conservative estimate offered in a draft fiscal note prepared by Senate staff pegged the likely cost at almost $200 million, not including the cost of required upgrades that could add another $200 million to the price.
What sort of message does this send to North Carolina families who are tightening their belts to make ends meet? As people struggle with financial challenges – whether it’s cutting back on vacations and summer camps for their kids, or dipping into their 401k savings to pay the mortgage – the politicians in Raleigh don’t seem to have any hesitation about spending half a billion dollars to take over a few privately-owned dams.
It just doesn't make sense.
Read more at the Yadkin Project blog:


Anonymous said...

Stanly County leaders and State of North Carolina leaders are moving forward to
1)Confiscate private property
2)Destroy shareholders assets
3)Poison any likelihood for any potential employer to locate any facility in Stanly County
4)Establish a financially unsustainable, hideously expensive power authority that will be ineptly and corruptly operated for the next 50 years.
5)Establish a huge finacial obligation that the citizens of Stanly County and the State of North Carolina will be paying for dururing their lifetimes and those of their children.
The actions of Tony Dennis, Lindsey Dunevant, Roger Dick of Stanly County and Ms Perdue and Mr Crisco are PRECISELY THE WRONG THING TO DO AT THIS TIME TO HELP the people of Stanly County have the jobs they need.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comment, Alcoa shill. Will the real citizens of Stanly stand up?

Anonymous said...

It is not confiscating private property. The lease on the water rights is up for a 50 year renewel. Since the current tennant provides no local economic benefit (JOBS), then we, the citizens of North Carolina should deny their request. The water is our right. In response to Anonymous:

1) True to the extent we take over the Yadkin dams. However, is Aloca prepared to pay the cost of cleaning up the massive amounts of pollution to Badin lake? Is this was is meant by enhancing shareholder assets. Seems to me, it is no different than slash and burn in the forests.
2) Shareholder assets??? Aloca is being destroyed in the public market and has been rumored to be bought or have an equity stake from a foreign company. I wouldn't want a foreign company to control our resources.
3) Wrong - To get employers you just need to offer incentives....primarily tax your homework. And besides, this is not just a Stanly County issue, it is a State of North Carolina issue
4) Your opinion
5) Your opinion

How much is alcoa paying you or do you have invested with alcoa kickbacks which you stand to lose.

The state is doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Answer to the third responder to my post
1) ALCOA shareholders own the dams and the land benaeth the water. ALCOA has agreed to pay for any water issues they are resonsible for. However, the Yadkin lakes are downstream from the watershed. THis means that if a polluter in Asheboro, New London or Lexington dumps PCBs from his transformer recycling business into a storm sewer, PCBs will be found in the Yadkin Lakes, PeeDee River etc just like human fecal matter and associated bacteria dumped into Long Creek by the city of Albemarle has ended up down-stream. The pollution angle is a ploy to get folks stirred up.
2)ALCOA's market capitalization today at market close was $9.6 Billion dollars. Don't think your contention holds water my friend. Again, that is ploy used to stir up low information folks and divert them from more lokely and real issues.
3) Yes, tax breaks are used to attract industries. also infrastructure improvements are also employed. When governments employ these measures, they expect a return in jobs and resultant tax revenues. However, these industries also expect that they can run their businesses without governmental interference in crucial decisions like resource allocation. ALCOA has been a legacy employer in Stanly County for more than 50 years with huge investments in their facilities, often the highest industrial wages in the area and represent one of the largest taxpayers in the region. The treatment of ALCOA by Stanly County leaders such as Tony Dennis, Lindasy Dunevant and Roger Dick will of couse be factored into any re-location decision by any prospective employer.
4) The project acquisition cost is to paid by revenue bonds. These have to paid off with interest. (It's a mortgage backed by state and local governments.) If the project is acquired by eminent domain at fair market value at $100M and the re-furbishing the plant costs $200M and the gross income is $20 M/year the project will not break even at current rates, Think of this being a sub prime mortgage on the biggest double wide trailer in the state on a salary from Sonic or Wal Mart.The idea that the dams and 38,000 acres of land can be had for $24M is delusional but needs to be believed by the low information folk because that is the only way the numbers show a benefit.
To deal with corruptly managed state and county run enterprises, remember, Mike Easley's cars, Mrs Esaley's job, Tyler Hansbrough mom's job, drivers' licenses for undocumented aliens at the Stanly County DMV, misapropriation of funds at North Stanly High School and floating fecal matter in Long Creek courtesy of the Albemarle sewer plant.
5) This enterprise you guys are entering will cost you money for years.
You low information folks are being manipulated by your county commissioners. ALCOA jobs will never return. The hyroelectric capacity of the system of dams was inadequate and the infrastructure is antiquated. No business plan that is legal and fair demonstrates that taking over the dams is beneficial for anyone except the public relations hacks hired by Dennis, Dunevant and Dick to pull the wool over your eyes.