Stanly County, Alcoa hoping for meeting

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
ALBEMARLE ó Stanly County Commissioners are asking to meet with Alcoa and discuss its efforts to relicense its dams and to bring jobs to the county.
County Manager Andy Lucas said the Stanly County Board of Commissioners met in executive session Wednesday afternoon to review an offer brought to the board Monday by Alcoa Power Generating Inc.
ěWhen they came out of closed session, a motion was made to ó based on that review of that offer ó invite Alcoa to come to Stanly County and sit down with the board of county commissioners and discuss the offer that was put on the table,î Lucas said.
Alcoa says it needs to reach an agreement with Stanly County to bring a new business to the town of Badin.
Clean Tech Silicon and Bar LLC, a green energy company that makes silicon for the solar industry and recycles scrap metal into rebar, has said it wants to locate a plant in Badin. It would create 450 jobs and invest $300 million.
Mike Belwood, a spokesman for Alcoa, said the company has made a ěvery substantialî offer to the county, agreeing to provide a total of 750 jobs or economic support until that number is reached.
Commissioners did not accept that offer, but theyíre not walking away from the table. The board wants to meet with Alcoa representatives face-to-face before Sept. 30.
Belwood said Wednesday that the company would be interested in meeting ěas quickly as possible.î He stressed that the Clean Tech project is competitive.
ěWeíre interested in reaching a resolution thatís good for the people of Stanly County, that brings in jobs and economic development and thatís fair to Alcoa,î Belwood said. ěTo the extent that this meeting could move things toward that goal, weíre willing to sit down and continue talking with them.î
Lucas said Alcoa representatives have never met with the full board before, only individual commissioners and other officials.
ěThe purpose of this is to show not only Alcoa but Clean Tech that we are working and are willing to try to resolve this issue,î he said. ěThere needs to be an equitable resolution, and we want to talk about what that equitable resolution looks like.î
Lucas said the meeting would include discussion about what it may take to resolve the ongoing relicensing and water quality certificate issues with Alcoa. He wouldnít elaborate further.
Alcoa owns and operates four dams on the Yadkin River, which once powered the companyís now-shuttered aluminum smelting plant. That electricity could be a big part of negotiations with companies looking to locate there, including Clean Tech.
ěItís a great site,î Belwood said. ěIt has a lot of potential, and if we can work together, we can realize it.î
Alcoa has been operating the dams under short-term licenses since its 50-year license expired in 2007. Itís now trying to secure a new long-term license.
To do this, the company must have a water quality certificate, issued by the Division of Water Quality in the N.C. Department of Environment and National Resources.
But Stanly County is challenging that certificate in court.
Last week, Commissioner Tony Dennis said Alcoa wanted the county to drop its lawsuit as part of a ěbad deal.î He said the water belongs to the people, not Alcoa, and so should the dams that generate power from it.
Belwood would not confirm whether that legal challenge was brought up in its offer, but he said the company hopes to resolve that issue soon.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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