Stanly not jumping at latest Alcoa plan

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 10, 2011

By Karissa Minn
BADIN ó Stanly County said Thursday it needs stronger assurances that Alcoa will bring 750 jobs and $400 million to Badin in the next few years.
Alcoa has spent months in negotiations with the county, trying to work out an agreement to locate Clean Tech Silicon and Bar LLC on the site of its former Badin Works aluminum smelting plant.
In what it calls a ěcompelling offer,î Alcoa now says it will pay the county $1.2 million a year if the company does not meet its jobs and financial commitments.
Clean Tech, a green energy company that makes silicon for the solar industry and recycles scrap metal into rebar, has said it wants to spend $300 million to locate an operation in Badin. It would employ 250 people and create another 200 related jobs.
According to Alcoa representatives, securing the Clean Tech project likely depends on the company receiving a new license for the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project.
If Alcoa were to deliver nothing more than it has up to this point, said spokesman Kevin Anton, payments to the county would total more than $50 million over the life of the long-term license.
ěWe have every intention to bring these jobs, but we can understand wanting some guarantees behind it,î Anton said. ěWeíve proposed that there would be payments made to the county if we didnít deliver on either the investment or the jobs for the term of the license.î
But in a press release issued Thursday, Stanly County said Alcoaís financial assurances ěare not worth the paper they are written on without sufficient enforcement measures.î
The county says Alcoa refused to include language that would enforce the agreement if the company doesnít live up to its end of the bargain.
ěAs Alcoaís latest offer stands, there is no efficient or cost effective way for the county to hold Alcoa accountable for its promises of jobs and investment,î the press release states. ěThis is not ëcompelling;í it is unreasonable.î
Alcoaís dams, which used to power the smelting plant, could provide energy for Clean Tech and other companies that locate at the Badin site.
Stanly County has fought Alcoaís relicensing of the hydroelectric project for several years, both in and out of court.
ěThe water of the Yadkin belongs to the people and has tremendous value from an electrical generation perspective,î the press release states.
The county says it is ěseeking fair and reasonable compensation for the long-term use of the river.î
Stanly County also is maintaining its legal challenge against a state water quality certificate that Alcoa needs for relicensing.
In the press release, the county says itís working for water quality improvements, including ěthe enhancement of dissolved oxygen levels, the remediation of known PCB hotspots in Badin Lake, and the detection and cleanup of several hazardous landfills on or adjacent to the former Alcoa plant site.î
Alcoa has a plan in place to make sure sediments contaminated with PCBs donít pose a health threat, Anton said. The company says it already has made significant investments to clean up the area.
Electronic Recyclers International (ERI), the first company to move in to the new Badin Business Park, is now renovating part of the site.
ěWeíve already brought the initial the ERI jobs in, and an awful lot of work is being done on the site as we speak,î Anton said.
In addition, Alcoa has offered to invest $6 million in infrastructure and education in Stanly County.
ěWe recognize the difficult times in the local economy, and the fact that for the last several years, Alcoa has not been the contributor it had been in the past,î Anton said.
Anton said the county would have control over the money, and Alcoaís only condition is that it be directed toward infrastructure and education.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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