Retired APGI official continues fight for Alcoa relicensing
By Mark Wineka
The Alcoa Power Generating Inc. official most closely identified with the company’s relicensing effort for the Yadkin Project officially retired June 1.
But Gene Ellis, former licensing and property manager with APGI, has stayed on in the prolonged relicensing fight as a consultant, working with Long View Associates of Washington state.
“I do want to see it through,” Ellis said Monday.
Long View Associates specializes in helping companies with relicensing hydropower projects regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Ellis had 30 years with Alcoa when he retired, and a better part of his 12 years with Yadkin Inc., which became APGI, was spent trying to get a new license for the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project through FERC.
As of now, the company’s relicensing effort is stalled, pending appeal of the state 401 water quality certificate. A stay has been granted on the water quality certificate.
State and local officials have raised considerable opposition to Alcoa’s being granted a new license and control of the 38-mile stretch of the Yadkin River for up to another 50 years. Now the opposing sides are preparing for a hearing connected to the stay.
In a filing, Alcoa has argued that FERC should go ahead and issue the new license. If requirements of the 401 certificate change as a result of the appeal, FERC will incorporate those new requirements into its license conditions, the company says.
The Yadkin Project takes in dams, power generating facilities and four reservoirs: High Rock, Tuckertown, Badin (Narrows) and Falls.
Throughout the relicensing, a process that began in earnest in 2002, Ellis often has served as the company spokesman.
Ellis, 52, said he began thinking seriously about retirement late last year as his 30th year with the company approached. Retirement was his decision and not a mandatory company policy after 30 years, he added.
He said he has been helping APGI with the transition of responsibilities, some of which will be taken over by Marshall Olson. A new licensing and property manager has not been hired.
After his graduation in biology and chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ellis worked briefly for the state of North Carolina before joining Alcoa in Badin in 1979. He worked for the parent company 18 years, then moved to Yadkin Inc.
He also earned a master’s degree in finance from Pfeiffer University.
The original FERC license, issued in 1958, was supposed to be renewed in April 2008.
Ellis acknowledged that he thought the relicensing would have been completed by his retirement.
“I’d like to see it come to completion, that’s for sure,” he said Monday.