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Alcoa poll shows voters oppose state takeover

RALEIGH ó A statewide public opinion poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates shows that N.C. voters overwhelmingly oppose a state takeover of the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project operated by Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI) in central North Carolina.
Alcoa Power Generating paid McLaughlin & Associates to conduct the poll and released the results through the PR Newswire.
The poll found that 75 percent of voters:
– Disapprove of the state using tax dollars to take over a private business.
– Oppose a state takeover of the Yadkin Project by a 3-to-1 margin (57 percent opposed to 19 percent).
– Oppose the state getting into the power business by a 2-to-1 margin (59 percent to 27 percent).
State lawmakers are currently contemplating whether to form a Yadkin Study Commission that would examine water issues along the Yadkin River, including whether the state should pursue a takeover of the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project. The state budget passed last week by the N.C. Senate includes this provision.
McLaughlin & Associates conducted a telephone survey of 500 likely voters June 19 through 22. An additional oversample provided a total of 350 interviews in Anson, Cabarrus, Davidson, Davie, Iredell, Montgomery, Randolph, Rowan, Stanly and Union counties.
“This survey clearly shows that the voters of North Carolina strongly believe that it is a very bad idea for the state government to take over the Alcoa hydroelectric dams and power plant,” said John McLaughlin, CEO of McLaughlin and Associates, a national polling firm based in New York. “Philosophically, the large majority of North Carolina voters are opposed to the concept. In practical terms, they do not want to pay for the takeover and believe the state should instead focus on addressing more pressing needs like education and the economy.”
“The poll confirmed our hunch that voters don’t want our state government taking over private companies or getting into the power business,” Gene Ellis, licensing and property manager for Alcoa Power Generating, said of the poll his company paid for. “The surprising thing was how strongly voters felt about this issue. Regardless of the cost, more than 70 percent of voters were opposed to the idea of a state takeover of the Yadkin Project.”
Alcoa Power Generating Inc. operates four dams and powerhouses under a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
A Relicensing Settlement Agreement, signed by 23 organizations, was submitted to federal regulators in May 2007. But the city of Salisbury and Stanly County have vigorously challenged the new license.
The federal licensing agency, for example, has supported Salisbury’s contention that Alcoa must pay to correct sedimentation and other damage to its water-intake site upstream from High Rock Lake.
Alcoa has said it would appeal that order.

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