Alcoa gets support for relicensing
By Jessie Burchette
The president of the High Rock Lake Homeowners Association is calling on Rowan County commissioners to stick with their support of the Alcoa relicensing agreement.
“We remain committed to the relicensing agreement,” Larry Jones told commissioners Tuesday. “Rowan County signed it. … It’s good for the lake. … We (will) get better water levels.”
Alcoa’s license to operate the Yadkin Hydroelectric project, which includes High Rock Lake, expired April 30. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opted to grant a one-year extension of the current license before making a final decision on the new 50-year license Alcoa has requested.
“We don’t want to see the new license disturbed,” Jones told commissioners.
Jones’ comments came after Commissioner Jim Sides said last week that he voted to support a resolution of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners calling for the state to examine potential effects of the Yadkin Project on clean water supplies.
Sides noted that some issues and questions have arisen that he believes the state should examine.
Tuesday afternoon, Sides said his vote supporting the resolution doesn’t change the county commissioners’ unanimous support for the relicensing agreement.
Sides noted that the entire State Senate, State House and Gov. Mike Easley supported Senate Bill 1046, which directs the Environmental Review Commission to study the potential impact of a new 50-year license.
“It’s historic when you find find (such) agreement on any issue,” Sides said.
Speaking at the outset of Tuesday’s meeting, Jones said Rowan’s support of the agreement shouldn’t be derailed by Stanly County’s issues. He said all the environmental issues and others raised by Stanly County were covered in work sessions that were part of the relicensing process over a four-year period.
One issue Stanly County raises is that the initial 50-year license was granted to provide electricity for the aluminum smelting operation at Badin, which provided jobs. The plant is no longer in operation. Stanly officials have also cited concerns over environmental cleanup.
Jones said the new license will greatly benefit Rowan County with increased building along the lake. “People want to know when they can build,” Jones said. He noted the new agreement will allow for more piers and that Alcoa has agreed to a public recreation area off Leonard Road.