A sighting rarer than the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker?

Did you notice, we're in a drought. Via Binker we see that REPUBLICAN Phil Berger has called for Governor Easley to not approve Alcoa's request for dominance over local water resources because they don't provide enough jobs to North Carolina. Go to Binker to read the letter to the Governor, I'll wait.......

Okay, I'll admit it, I don't see the angle. For a Republican to stand up to big business (anyone remember the NFL ALCOA commercials? "We can't wait, we can't wait, for tomorroooooooooooooow, Alcoa can't wait!") and ask the Democratic governor to yank their operations in North Carolina, for all intents and purposes, boggles the mind. Berger says that "In 1958, when its current license was issued, Alcoa provided a number of jobs to North Carolina's citizens; sadly, this is no longer the case. In 2002, Alcoa laid off hundreds of North Carolina workers and no longer provides employment for a substantial number of our people."

One can only imagine that the message is a shot across the bow of outsourcers - if you take jobs out of North Carolina, just take your ball and go home, because we ain't playing. Am I missing something here, is there some hidden neocon agenda to shutting down Alcoa in North Carolina or has the moderate Republican reappeared in North Carolina after a half-century. Or, is it just all smoke and mirrors and vague sightings, like the ivory-billed-woodpecker?


Who knows the back story on Alcoa?

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

I'm going to have to look into this now Robert.

Your essay here has caused me to want to know.

Do you know if Phil Berger has been particularly moderate in the past, or is this something totally new?

It does seem might peculiar for a Republican to be talking like this.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

I remember seeing him on one of the WUNC shows.

He seemed like any old right-wing preacher of the neocon agenda to me, but that is most of what I know about him. I'd be happy to be proven wrong and to think that North Carolina Republicans are going to think for themselves now that the Rove era is over.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Yes, you are missing something

As a registered Democrat and bona fide progressive Liberal, and a resident of central North Carolina, I am gratified (and I'll admit somewhat surprised) that a Republican leader like Berger would take this stance. That said, it is absolutely the right thing to do.

Alcoa has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a new 50-year license to operate its Yadkin Project, Alcoa Power Generating Inc. also known as APGI. The Republican controlled FERC will likely rubber stamp Alcoa's application despite the fact that they will use the waters of the Yadkin River purely to generate billions of dollars of profit over the next 50 years, very little of which will benefit the citizens of North Carolina.

The Yadkin Project was licensed nearly 50 years ago by the Federal Power Commission to support Alcoa’s smelting operations in Badin, North Carolina. At that time, the Commission justified granting a fifty-year license to the Project, in large part so that continued operation of the Badin smelting works would not be threatened, and the plant’s more than 900 jobs would be retained. Since then, Alcoa has more than recaptured their investment in the project. In the current application for relicense, APGI does not offer significant economic benefit to the region. The Badin smelting works have permanently shut down, and over the years, Alcoa has eliminated nearly 1000 jobs in the region. Should this relicensing proceeding result in a new license for Alcoa, the public waters of the rivers will no longer be available to the county or region to attract new jobs and economic prosperity to the region through availability of inexpensive electricity. Instead, Alcoa/APGI proposes to sell the electricity generated at the Yadkin Project at market prices outside the region and state. The Project will be used to generate profit for Pittsburgh-based Alcoa, rather than for much needed local economic benefit and jobs in the Central Park region and North Carolina.

There are many excellent models of public ownership of power projects that generate fantastic economic development opportunities for their citizens. See for example, the New York Power Authority (www.nypa.gov) or closer to home, the Santee Cooper project. Since its beginning, no South Carolina tax-generated revenues have ever been appropriated by the General Asembly for the Santee Cooper system. By law, the state of South Carolina is never to be financially obligated by Santee Cooper. By providing low-cost power, Santee Cooper has helped bring in new industry and expand existing industry, resulting in thousands of new jobs for the state.
See: https://www.santeecooper.com/portal/page/portal/SanteeCooper/AboutUs/HistoryofSanteeCooper

In 1914, Theodore Roosevelt, former governor and president, warned against "waterpower barons" seeking a monopoly on New York’s natural resources. It wasn't until 1931 that Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt gained public and legislative support for a Power Authority "to give back to the people the water power which is theirs." In 1931, the Federal Power Act established a five-member, bipartisan commission to run the Federal Power Commission. In 1977, that Commission became the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC.)

The residents of the region would like to see these waters benefit the state's environment and economy: imagine the country's first hydrogen powered region. We would rather see the dam projects be used to supply low-cost clean, renewable energy for the citizens of NC, and yes, to lure environmentally friendly, good jobs to the state with clean renewable electricity rather than massive financial incentives.

We would rather see a publicly-owned power generator wherein the people of the state ensure environmental protection and job creation. And finally, we will need the profits from a publicly owned power generator in order to clean up the massive superfund site that 50 plus years of Alcoa's aluminum smelting has undoubtedly left behind.

So I suggest that we applaud Senator Berger and any other Republican (or Democrat for that matter) for doing the right thing for North Carolina.

Perhaps it has taken a major drought to spotlight the dangers of allowing a few major corporations to enjoy unfettered control over our state's (and nation's) water supply. So be it. God works in mysterious ways.

Thanks, Nancy!

You really know your stuff.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

But, a Republican doing something GOOD for the people....

That is just insane.

Maybe we should invite Phil Berger to live-blog about this decision! ; )

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Ivory Tower Peckerwood?

Sorry. I don't have anything to add to that; I used up all my creativity on the title of the post itself.

Alcoa's license offers benefits

I agree that Sen. Berger’s opposition to the Alcoa license is surprising.

You’d think Sen. Berger and others would be supportive of the clean, renewable energy that Alcoa generates along the Yadkin River. Just last year, the legislature passed a promoting renewable energy in North Carolina.

To make this an issue about protecting North Carolina’s water resources, especially during drought conditions, doesn’t make sense either. Alcoa’s hydropower generators don't remove any water from the Yadkin River and the company has done an excellent job managing the water supply during the prolonged drought. The reservoirs have been near full throughout the drought and those who rely on Alcoa's reservoirs for drinking water have not faced any shortages.

The Alcoa license has the support of state agencies in North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as local governments, homeowners, recreational users and environmental interests groups. The new license will improve water quality along the Yadkin, provide new swimming areas, fishing piers and camp sites and preserve thousands of acres for recreation, game lands and conservation.

Okay, now I'm interested.

It's taken two opposing drive-by's to get me there, but I'm there.

Okay, so: we have a 215 megawatt hydroelectric power generating station on the Yadkin River, which is privately owned by ALCOA. An already-paid-for source of clean and renewable energy in North Carolina, and a Republican wants to stop the relicensing. What happens then? The plant shuts down and stops producing power?

Alcoa/APGI proposes to sell the electricity generated at the Yadkin Project at market prices outside the region and state. The Project will be used to generate profit for Pittsburgh-based Alcoa, rather than for much needed local economic benefit and jobs in the Central Park region and North Carolina.

I really don't have a problem with them selling their power elsewhere. Although that's not really what will happen. The energy will actually be used much closer to home, and ALCOA will sell renewable energy credits elsewhere. Ideally, Duke or Progress would buy these credits at a decent rate to put towards their REPS requirement, but that makes too much sense.

But as far as privately owned companies financing and then profiting from producing clean, rewnewable energy? That's the only way we will ever be able to meet the carbon emission reductions we so desperately need. The bottom line is: that power replaces/offsets coal or nuclear power, wherever it goes.

If we shut this plant down because we don't see an immediate profit/benefit for x number of people in the area, we are (once again) looking at our feet as we walk down the trail.

Part of what I see as a problem

is ALCOA made an agreement that they would also create jobs for the community. Because of FTAs (????), those plants have moved out of the region and probably country.

I really don't have a problem with them selling their power elsewhere. Although that's not really what will happen.

Fundemental problem with this statement is this water belongs to the region. The people of that region, and the counties of that region. This is not solely ALCOAs power, but everyone in the regions power.

Without the water and land, ALCOA cannot generate the power. Without ALCOA, this clean source of power is not available to the region. Both sides need each other.

For the federal government to tell the people of North Carolina that ALCOA is going to be granted their relicensing is wrong.

ALCOA went back on their portion of the agreement by removing the jobs from the region. ALCOA is a business for profit. With that, a renegotiation of the basic foundation of the agreement between Stanly County and ALCOA is justified or no license.

Many options are available here but to me, the bottom line is Stanly County and the region should have a better say in the management of their waterways and what is done on them. Either the County takes control of the plant, or ALCOA comes to the County with a better partnership agreement.

I am confident that Stanly County does not wish to shut down that power plant. I feel that it is acceptable for the County Commissioners to be stronger partners in this venture. After all, without that water source, there is no power.

NC cannot lose a hydroelectric plant, but the people of that region cannot lose their voice in how their resources are utilized. That is why a license with agreements for both sides are drawn up.

I agree with your overall premise,

that folks in the region should have a say in whatever happens. As I said before, I see this as a unique opportunity for Duke and Progress to purchase renewable energy for their customers at a decent (kwh) rate, in accordance with the REPS requirements.

But to say that local residents will be hurt or see no benefit unless they get the power themselves is patently wrong. The locks & dams on the yadkin River have provided numerous watersheds for residents to drink and to play in over the years, which is an economic benefit that is nearly incalculable.

And as far as ALCOA going back on their word, we're talking fifty years here. If this is true:

Alcoa has more than recaptured their investment in the project.

then the people have also (already) realized a substantial benefit from the project. Trying to label them as a company who grabbed what they wanted and left, breaking promises in the process is an unfair and inaccurate assessment, especially during our current debate about awarding incentives to companies to relocate here.

I hope some accomodation can be made, but if this plant is shut down, that's 215 megawatts of clean power lost.

I am looking into the future

I do not want nor advocate closing this plant. The people of the region have a chance to renegotiate the old license is all I am saying.

If they are not involved, then that is wrong.

Yes both sides have benefited from the first 50 years of their partnership. The next 50 years should also see both sides benefiting. One of the reasons why the license is only good for 50 years, in case the situation changes. The situation has changed. The agreement needs to be redefined with the community involved.

It would then be up to the community and community leader to negotiate and make their pitch as to how best to partner this valuable resource.

Shutting down this plant should not be an option and will not be if a partnership based on mutual benefit is joined.

Why Are We Giving Our Water Away?

Recently the local government for Stanly County approached MMI Associates, Inc. about providing PR for its opposition to renewing a 50-year federal hydroelectric license to Alcoa ( a multinational company) for the Narrows Dam on the Yadkin River, one of the longest rivers in North Carolina. After meeting with county officials and hearing their concerns, we have agreed to assist them with this important effort.

We are going to begin posting a series of blogs with updates about this effort and major activities that will be planned to bring attention to it on our Web site. This is a critical matter of water policy. The upcoming federal ruling will impact all North Carolinians. I hope you all will at least read what we have to say.

Please visit www.mmimarketing.com/blog/introduction-to-a-new-mmi-project to read more about this very important issue affecting North Carolina's water.

Thank you for your time.


Not a boogeyman

ALCOA hydroelectric shouldn't be treated like a corporate boogeyman, but there's also nothing wrong with asking questions and the local governments getting the best deal possible.

News 14 Covers Stanly County Water Rights Protest

We, the concerned leaders, residents and supporters of Stanly County, are happy to report that News 14, the 24-hour local news cable channel, felt that our protest on March 31 in Raleigh was worthy enough to merit coverage by its Triangle bureau. The story can be found here: http://news14.com/content/headlines/594438/protest-over-alcoa-water-license/Default.aspx

This coverage was helpful and informative, and we appreciate it. However, the emphasis of some comments made by Gene Ellis, licensing and property manager for Alcoa Power Generating Inc., indicates once again that he and other company officials are making the wrong arguments and not addressing the real issues at hand.

We are fighting over water POLICY, not over water SUPPLY. The current license that would be granted to Alcoa would allow them virtually unrestricted power to use the Yadkin for its power generating activities. The water supply will be there, absolutely. But in order to access it, North Carolinians will need Alcoa’s approval and pay whatever price they may impose in order for it to be used potable or other purposes. What’s more, the benefits reaped from this relicensing would occur almost entirely for Alcoa’s bottom line and not North Carolina’s. Alcoa can sell the power from the operations to whomever they want, or even sell the operations themselves to a third party for profit.

Regardless of what will happen, Stanly County – and North Carolina for that matter – will be powerless to touch the hydropower setup for 50 years under the terms of that license if it is granted, even though it comes from its own public resource – the waters of the Yadkin River.

Also in the News 14 story, Ellis claims how beneficial his company’s operations are to Stanly. “One is the recreational value that it brings to the local economy; another is the tourism value, and again that’s an impact on the local economy,” he said. Does he really think that the area’s recreation and tourism has been improved by having an outside multinational firm generate power from the Yadkin River, and that further enhancements will occur in these areas should Alcoa continue to operate them until 2058? I cannot recall anyone claiming to visit Stanly County because of its hydroelectric plants, nor would expect to hear that in the future.

Let’s face it – this sort of monopoly regarding public water resources is outdated in the 21st century. Now more than ever, we in North Carolina need to take control of their use and see that they benefit local residents and businesses rather than outside moneymaking interests. It is just common sense in planning for a prosperous future.

We ask that state officials do their part by stressing to members of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission our concerns and encourage the FERC to deny this relicensing. Otherwise, Stanly will not be the only county in North Carolina to fall short of in its fight for public resource rights.