House committee bottles up Alcoa bill
The N.C. House Water Resources and Infrastructure Committee voted 8-6 Tuesday against Senate Bill 967, which would establish a Yadkin River Trust and wrest control of the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project from Alcoa Power Generating Inc.
“We applaud the committee for standing up for private property rights and voting against an unprecedented government takeover that could have cost North Carolina $500 million or more,” Gene Ellis, a spokesperson for Alcoa, said in a statement following the committee meeting in Raleigh.
“We remain eager for a new license and look forward to implementing the many positive benefits included in the Relicensing Settlement Agreement.”
Against opposition from many legislators, local officials and Gov. Bev Perdue, Alcoa has been trying to renew its federal license to operate the Yadkin Project.
The hydroelectric project takes in a 38-mile stretch of the river and includes the dams, power-generating facilities and four reservoirs, including High Rock Lake.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff members have already recommended issuing a new long-term license to Alcoa, but its receipt of a state water quality certificate has been appealed and blocked for now, while strong sentiment has surfaced in the Legislature for the Yadkin River Trust concept.
Larry Jones, president of the High Rock Lake Association, addressed the House committee in support of Alcoa Tuesday.
“We are gratified that the House took the time to carefully consider this legislation and weigh the pros and cons,” Jones said. “Once they did that, they voted their conscience.”