Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Alcoa Foundation Awards $45,000 in Local Grants to Promote Education, Healthcare and Land Preservation in NC

The Alcoa Foundation has awarded grants to three North Carolina organizations totaling $45,000 as part of its ongoing commitment to support worthwhile causes in the local community that are dedicated to improving education, protecting the environment and advancing health and safety.

The Stanly Community College Foundation, Stanly Regional Medical Center and LandTrust for Central North Carolina each received a $15,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation. This money will support workforce education, provide enhanced medical care for rural and at-risk communities, and support land conservation efforts across central North Carolina.

“The Alcoa Foundation is proud to support these three important projects that will benefit our local community,” said Nicole Wright, the local coordinator for Alcoa Foundation grants in North Carolina. “These projects will train Stanly County students for engineering jobs, make it easier for residents to get quality healthcare, and support non-profit organizations that help protect our environment.”

The Alcoa Foundation grants include:

Stanly Community College Foundation
As part of Stanly Community College’s continued emphasis on workforce education and training, the $15,000 grant will be used to support the Electronics Engineering Technology program. The program, part of the College’s Advanced Manufacturing and Industrial Technology initiative, helps train students for jobs such as automation and mechatronics technicians, plant maintenance technicians, and equipment maintenance technicians. The grant money will purchase equipment, including basic hydraulic furniture and a pump, that enables the College to build a full hydraulic training system for its Industrial Electronics lab that will open in 2016. The College expects to train 40 students a year and provide them with an understanding of hydraulic components, circuits, and laws.

“Alcoa has been a long-time partner of Stanly Community College, especially in the area of workforce development. We are grateful for its continued support," said Dr. Brenda Kays, president of Stanly Community College. “This grant will help support our new Advanced Manufacturing and Industrial Technology Center by providing much needed equipment to help our students learn new skills.”

Stanly Regional Medical Center
The $15,000 grant will be used by the hospital to purchased advanced technology to provide telemedicine services at rural, high-risk clinics in Stanly and Montgomery County. Telemedicine eliminates the transportation barrier many patient face by  allowing the clinics to immediately share vital medical information – using two-way video and other wireless technology – with the hospital. This technology improves patient healthcare and allows the patient to more easily receive information about how to manage chronic diseases.

“The Stanly Regional Medical Center Foundation is grateful to Alcoa for their support through the telemedicine grant. Our Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Department is thrilled to be able to serve our community more fully through these funds. With each meeting, they think of more effective and efficient ways to reach their patients through this grant. Together, we look forward to improving the health of our community,” said Rebekah Ayscue, SRMC Foundation Annual Giving Officer.

The LandTrust for Central North Carolina
The $15,000 grant will be used to deploy a new database and monitoring system (ConservationTrack) that provides online tools to more effectively manage the stewardship of 600 conservation easements and properties stretching across central North Carolina. As part of an agreement to maximize their collective resources, this technology will be jointly used by the LandTrust for Central North Carolina, Catawba Lands Conservancy and Piedmont Land Conservancy. 

“With the help of the Alcoa Foundation, The LandTrust for Central North Carolina is breaking new ground by partnering with other land trusts to apply current technology to back office operations. This grant from Alcoa not only makes this possible, but leverages the opportunity by making larger projects more affordable over the long term," said Addison Davis, program director for The LandTrust for Central North Carolina.

Alcoa and the Alcoa Foundation have a long history of supporting worthwhile causes in central North Carolina. It has donated more than $4 million in the past 25 years to support economic development and assist nearly 100 local non-profit organizations.

About the Alcoa Foundation

Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the United States, with assets of approximately $480 million. Founded 63 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $615 million. In 2014, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $22 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow’s leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the company’s signature Month of Service program, in 2014, 58 percent of Alcoa employees took part in more than 1,000 events across 24 countries, benefiting more than 700,000 people and 500 nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit

Friday, October 23, 2015

NC issues 401 Water Quality Certificate for Yadkin Project

The State of North Carolina issued a 401 water quality certificate the Yadkin Project on Friday, October 23. 

"We are pleased the State of North Carolina has issued a water quality certificate for the Yadkin Project and we are in the process of reviewing it," said Ray Barham, APGI Relicensing Manager for the Yadkin Project. "The certificate clears the way to a FERC license that will allow us to implement enhanced water quality technology and additional environmental and recreational benefits promised by the Relicensing Settlement Agreement. We have been good stewards of the watershed for nearly 100 years and remain committed to meeting North Carolina water quality standards."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Judge confirms Alcoa’s ownership of Yadkin River property and dismisses state’s lawsuit

Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI) scored another key legal victory over the State of North Carolina in federal court Monday when a federal judge confirmed the company’s ownership of the Yadkin River property where it operates four hydroelectric dams. U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle granted APGI’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the state’s lawsuit seeking ownership of the riverbed beneath the dams. 

“The evidence, even viewed in the light most favorable to the State, overwhelmingly demonstrates that Alcoa has title to the bed of the Relevant Segment,” concluded Judge Boyle.

APGI successfully argued that the company has valid title to the riverbed and has been in actual, open, adverse, exclusive, and continuous possession of the property for more than 50 years.

“Alcoa is pleased with the court’s ruling affirming our ownership of the Yadkin River property,” said Ray Barham, APGI Relicensing Manager. “With this ruling we encourage the State of North Carolina to quickly issue the 401 water quality certificate so we can begin making investments in water quality improvements and bringing other significant benefits to the region once a new federal license is issued.”

This is the latest in a string of legal victories for APGI. Judge Boyle in April ruled in Alcoa’s favor that the relevant portion of the Yadkin River was not navigable, a crucial distinction that squashed the state’s argument that it was entitled to special property rights.

On Friday, September 25, a Wake Court Superior Court judge upheld a previous ruling that the N.C. Division of Environment and Natural Resources exceeded its authority, acted erroneously and failed to act as required by law when it denied APGI a 401 water quality certificate. The denial was overturned and the state agency has been ordered to act on APGI’s application within 30 days.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Court upholds ruling that State agency unlawfully denied water quality certificate for Alcoa dams

Court upholds ruling that State agency unlawfully denied water quality certificate for Alcoa dams

Wake County Superior Court judge upholds ruling by administrative law judge, orders agency to issue decision on Alcoa application within 30 days

Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI) won a significant legal victory in Wake County Superior Court on Friday when a judge upheld a previous ruling that the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) wrongly denied a water quality certificate that is necessary to relicense the company’s dams along the Yadkin River.

Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins ruled that an administrative law judge was correct in finding that DENR exceeded its authority, acted erroneously and failed to act as required by law when it denied APGI’s application for a water quality certificate in August 2013. Judge Collins denied the state agency’s appeal and ordered DENR to reconsider APGI’s application and issue a decision within 30 days.

“We’re pleased the court has reaffirmed what we’ve known all along: the state had no legal reason to deny our application. We urge the state to follow the judge’s order and quickly issue a water quality certificate for the Yadkin Project,” said Ray Barham, APGI Relicensing Manager for the Yadkin Project.

Judge Collins notes that in the days leading up to DENR’s decision to deny APGI’s application, “DENR’s customary process of reasoned review collapsed under the pressure of 11th hour action by the Governor’s office and the (Department of Administration), agencies outside of DENR and having no direct responsibility for the protection of water quality or the environment.”

Before the Governor’s office inserted itself into the review process, Judge Collins says a final report recommended approving APGI’s application and issuing a water quality certificate for the Yadkin Project.

“DENR would have issued a merits based decision on the Application on August 2, 2013, likely issuing a 401 in APGI’s favor, but not for the secret intervention of the DOA and the Governor’s office into the process…” states Judge Collins ruling. “The undisputed facts recited in the Order demonstrate that DENR reversed course at the last minute, only after Executive Branch pressure and the 11th-hour filing of the Lawsuit.”

The NC Department of Administration filed a lawsuit against APGI on August 2, 2013, claiming ownership of the land under the Yadkin Project dams. The case is currently being considered in U.S. District Court by Judge Terrence Boyle.

The state’s failure to issue a water quality certificate has resulted in the unnecessary delay of water quality protections and improvements. APGI cannot move forward with its plans to invest up to $80 million on water quality improvements at the Yadkin Project until it receives a new federal license.

“We remain committed to meeting North Carolina water quality standards and have a proven solution to continue improving water quality at the Yadkin Project,” Barham said.

The issuance of a water quality certificate is a precondition to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issuing APGI’s new long-term license to continue generating clean, renewable energy at the Yadkin Project. FERC staff has previously recommended issuing a new license to APGI.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Hot, Dry Summer Pushes the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin into Drought Watc

Residents are asked to conserve water

The Yadkin-Pee Dee Drought Management Advisory Group (YPD-DMAG) announced today that because of months of hot temperatures and reduced rainfall, the Yadkin Pee-Dee River Basin has entered a drought watch stage.

Stage 0 of the Low Inflow Protocol (LIP) is a drought watch stage alerting the YPD-DMAG members to monitor conditions more closely.  It is the first of five drought stages outlined by the YPD-DMAG.

Water inflow into the Yadkin Basin is down nearly 50 percent from historical averages. Stages of LIP indicators are based on the following triggers:

* Water storage in the four-reservoir Yadkin Hydroelectric Project (operated by Alcoa Power Generating, Inc. (APGI)) and in the two-reservoir Yadkin-Pee Dee Hydroelectric Project (operated by Duke Energy) has declined.

* Stream flows feeding the reservoirs are well below normal.

* U.S. Drought Monitor trigger indicates most of the basin is experiencing moderate drought conditions.

The LIP is the drought management plan developed during the relicensing of the two hydroelectric projects to share responsibility and set priorities to conserve the limited water supply during drought conditions.  The LIP coordinates actions aimed at reducing water use from APGI’s High Rock Lake, Tuckertown Reservoir, Badin Lake and Falls Reservoir as well as Duke Energy’s Lake Tillery and Blewett Falls Lake to effectively buy time for rains to return and replenish the lake system’s usable water storage.

APGI and Duke Energy will monitor inflow and lake level conditions and work together to protect the water supply and other uses of the river system to limit the impact of drought on residents and businesses of the Basin.

APGI requested and received a temporary variance from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to conserve water by reducing required minimum flows out of the Yadkin Project. 

The YPD-DMAG was established during relicensing to monitor drought status and to recommend coordinated actions for the DMAG members. Members include North Carolina and South Carolina resource agencies, federal resource agencies, Duke Energy, APGI, homeowner groups and water suppliers.  The YPD-DMAG meets at least monthly when conditions reach Stage 0 or greater of the LIP. For more information about lake levels and drought conditions, visit for information on the Duke Energy lakes or for information on the APGI lakes.