North Carolina Seeks To Take Over Yadkin Project

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The state of North Carolina has intervened in the licensing of Yadkin hydroelectric project and is seeking to take over the project.The 209 MW Yadkin Project on the Yadkin River is owned and operated by Alcoa Power Generating Inc., a one-time largest employer in the Stanley County through its aluminum plant. Now that Alcoa is no longer providing jobs, North Carolina, in its motion to intervene filed earlier this month states:

Fifty years later, the smelting works are no longer operational and the jobs and economic opportunities associated with them are gone. A skeleton crew of employees remains to look after the shuttered works and to operate the hydropower facilities. While the State and the surrounding communities have largely lost their stake in the original arrangement, APGI continues to operate the dams and generate and sell power at a significant profit. The State therefore moves to intervene to curtail APGI's vestigial private control of this segment of the Yadkin River and to rededicate this valuable resource to significant public use."

A press statement issued on April 1 by NC governor Bev Perdue states

"The waters of the Yadkin River belong to the people of North Carolina.  Fifty years ago, we endorsed Alcoa's request for a federal license to operate hydroelectric dams on the river because they powered the company's aluminum smelting works.  That facility was a linchpin in the regional economy and created jobs for up to 1,000 North Carolina workers."  said Gov. Perdue. "Today the smelter and the jobs are gone - and so is the reason for the license.  I'm asking FERC to enable the recapture of the license so it can be used once  again to help create jobs and economic opportunity for the region."

Meanwhile a bill has been filed in the State Senate that would create a "Yadkin River Trust" to take over the hydroelectric projects. See this article regarding the introduced bill. Since the state has not submitted a competing application, its not clear whether or not FERC would allow the State to take over the project. Alcoa is in the process of applying for another 50-year license to operate its four hydroelectric plants at the High Rock Lake, Tuckertown Reservoir, Badin Lake and the Falls Reservoir along a 38-mile stretch of the Yadkin River.