Alcoa gets license for one year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staff report
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued an annual license for the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project operated by Alcoa Power Generating Inc.
The annual license mirrors the conditions of Alcoa Power’s current license and will remain in effect until a new license for the Yadkin Project is issued.
“We fully expected to receive an annual license, with the expectation that a new license will be issued by FERC in the next several months,” Gene Ellis, licensing and property manager for Alcoa Power, said in a press release.
“As soon as the new license takes effect, we will move forward with implementing the many positive benefits outlined in our Relicensing Settlement Agreement.”
April 30 was the original deadline for a new 50-year license for the hydroelectric project, which includes the High Rock, Tuckertown, Narrows (Badin Lake) and Falls reservoirs and covers a 38-mile stretch of the Yadkin River.
Alcoa Power, which has faced formal challenges during the relicensing process from the Stanly County Board of Commissioners and the city of Salisbury, emphasizes that the settlement agreement is supported by 23 organizations across North Carolina and South Carolina.
Alcoa says it will improve water quality, extend the recreation season, allow for increased water withdrawals from the Yadkin River and protect the water supply during times of drought.
In addition, Alcoa will donate or sell more than 6,000 acres of land (approximately 40 percent of its land holdings in central North Carolina) for conservation, recreation and game lands.
The land transfers would include the donation of more than 1,000 acres for the expansion of Morrow Mountain State Park. Alcoa says it also has begun a $200 million refurbishment and upgrade project that is providing new jobs and improving water quality.
“Everyone is eager to reap the benefits of our new license,” Ellis said in the press release, “especially homeowners and recreational users who will benefit from higher lake levels, new swim areas, fishing piers and camp sites, as well as changes to our Shoreline Management Plan.”
FERC issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Yadkin Project on April 18.
The document generally supports the Relicensing Settlement Agreement and recommends a new license for Alcoa. It also calls on Alcoa to develop a sedimentation and flooding mitigation plan to protect some of Salisbury’s water-sewer infrastructure.
In addition, Alcoa noted, the Final Environmental Impact Statement says a federal takeover of the project is not a reasonable alternative and will not be considered.