Friday, August 28, 2015

AP: Judge weighs dumping Alcoa lawsuit

Alcoa returned to U.S. District Court in Raleigh Thursday for a hearing related to the State of North Carolina's lawsuit regarding ownership of the riverbed beneath the Yadkin Project.

Here's a media report from the Associated Press about the hearing.

Judge weighs dumping Alcoa lawsuit
August 27, 2015

A federal judge questioned Thursday whether North Carolina was acting like a “banana republic” with its lawsuit challenging whether Alcoa Inc. owns the riverbed under Yadkin River dams it has operated for as long as a century.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle quizzed lawyers for the state and the aluminum giant in court for an hour as he considered whether to dismiss the case. The lawsuit filed in 2013 challenges whether Alcoa holds clear title to the riverbed that allowed it to build the four dams and perhaps one day sell them.
Boyle asked state attorney Donald Teeter whether the lawsuit sought to punish Alcoa for closing its Stanly County aluminum smelter in 2007 where hundreds of people once worked.
“Why isn’t this like some banana republic that confiscates property?” Boyle said. “This is really a thinly veiled power grab.”

Friday, July 31, 2015

Legislators urge Gov. McCrory to end lawsuit with Alcoa

NC House Rep. Justin Burr, a Republican representing Montgomery and Stanly counties, recently shared on Facebook a letter that was sent to Gov. McCrory from five legislators who represent the Uwharrie region. The letter urges the state to drop its lawsuit and instead work with Alcoa to renew its hydro license and work together to attract new jobs to the region.

“We are writing to ask you to end the state’s lawsuit against Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI) in light of two significant legal rulings against the state,” the letter says.

“These rulings make it increasingly clear that state and federal laws do not support the position of your administration. Continuing the state’s legal efforts to acquire ownership of the riverbed property or delay granting APGI a water quality permit is an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars – and it negatively impacts the citizens we represent.”

Thank you to Rep. Burr, Rep. Rayne Brown (R – Davidson), Rep. Carl Ford (R – Cabarrus, Rowan), Rep. Harry Warren (R – Rowan) and Rep. Sam Watford (R – Davidson).     

Monday, June 15, 2015

Alcoa donates truck to Habitat for Humanity

Nicole Wright presents the keys to Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Cemita Gibbs and Fund Development Coordinator Jill Hatley.    
Alcoa Power Generating Inc. recently donated a 2001 Ford pickup F-250 extended cab truck to Stanly County Habitat for Humanity.

“Alcoa has been a fantastic community partner and we are so grateful for their continued support of Habitat for Humanity. We will put this truck to good use delivering materials and supplies between projects,” said Cemita Gibbs, executive director of Stanly County Habitat for Humanity.

Alcoa has previously donated land to Habitat for Humanity to build homes in Badin.

“Stanly County Habitat for Humanity has completed 45 homes in Stanly County and is currently working on #46. Habitat’s no interest mortgages allow families to attain the ‘American Dream’ of homeownership, but we also strive to unite businesses, churches, organizations and individuals together for one common goal of giving back to their community. Alcoa is a great community partner and recognizes the value giving back,” Gibbs said.

“We have tremendous respect and appreciation for the work that Habitat for Humanity does to make our community a better place. We’re delighted to provide this truck to help Habitat accomplish its work,” said Nicole Wright, Alcoa’s Foundation Coordinator.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Judge overturns denial of Alcoa’s water quality certificate

A judge has ruled that the NC Division of Water Resources (DWR) exceeded its authority, acted erroneously and failed to act as required by law when it denied Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI) a water quality certificate that is required to relicense its hydroelectric project along the Yadkin River. As a result, the denial has resulted in “additional and unnecessary delay” of water quality protections and improvements.   

Administrative Law Judge Selina Brooks granted APGI’s motion to overturn the denial of its application for a 401 water quality certificate for the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project in a May 29 order. The court ordered the state to review APGI’s application "as expeditiously as possible” and issue a decision within 30 days. Click here to read the ruling.  

“The judge concluded what we have known all along – the Division of Water Resources had no legitimate grounds to deny our water quality certificate. We urge the agency to follow its rules and act quickly to issue a water quality certificate for the Yadkin Project,” said Ray Barham, APGI Yadkin Relicensing Manager.

In the order, Judge Brooks stated that “there appears to be no factual dispute that [APGI] satisfied the substantive requirements for issuance of a water quality certification.” She ruled that the decision to deny APGI’s application was an arbitrary and capricious decision that resulted in “manifest unfairness” to APGI.

When APGI’s application for a water quality certificate was denied on August 2, 2013, it was not the result of “careful consideration” or “impartial decision-making.” In the order, Judge Brooks stated that DWR exceeded its authority by admittedly basing the denial on a dispute over ownership of the riverbed beneath the hydroelectric project rather than water quality issues.

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.

“This was never an issue about water quality. We have a proven plan in place to improve water quality and ensure compliance with the state’s water quality standards,” Barham said. “We are prepared to invest up to $80 million in the Yadkin Project to continue enhancing water quality in the Yadkin River.”

APGI and the State of North Carolina are currently involved in a lawsuit in U.S. District Court over the ownership of the riverbed. A federal judge resolved a key issue in the lawsuit in May when he ruled that the relevant section of the Yadkin River not navigable – a determination that prevents the State of North Carolina from asserting special ownership rights to the riverbed.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Kickoff the summer at Badin Lake on Saturday

To celebrate the start of the summer recreation season at Badin Lake, Alcoa is joining forces with local law enforcement agencies to host a series of family-friendly activities on Saturday, May 30 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Badin Lake Access Area located off Hwy. 740 in Badin.

“We encourage everyone to come out to Badin Lake on Saturday to enjoy a free snow cone, grab a free life jacket and learn how to stay safe on the lakes,” said Karen Baldwin, a natural resources manager for Alcoa Power Generating Inc. who spearheads the company’s water safety efforts.  “We want to use this event to remind families about the different ways they can protect themselves when they are swimming or boating in the lake.”

Special guests will include Joe Teti, a Stanly County resident who is co-star of the Discovery Channel show "Dual Survival."

“A lot of people have seen Joe putting his survival skills to work on TV. We want to remind everyone to put their survival skills to work when they are at the lake: Always wear a life jacket. Don't drink alcohol when you are operating a boat or swimming in the lake. Always keep a close eye on your children,” Baldwin said.

Activities will include:

Interactive Games: 
Take part in fun, family friendly games and activities that reinforce the importance of water safety.

Free Life Jackets:
 Alcoa will give away free life jackets to 100 children under 13 years old. North Carolina law requires children under 13 to always wear a properly fitting life jacket when on a boat.

Boating Safety Tips:
 Representatives from the Stanly County Sheriffs Office, Montgomery County Sheriffs Office, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and the US Coast Guard Auxiliary will be on hand to share boating safety tips, provide free boating safety inspections, and showcase the boats used to patrol the lakes and rescue those in need.

Kids Characters: There will be special appearances by Spiderman and Elsa.

Animals from Dan Nicholas Park

Live Broadcast by WSPC

Alcoa Power Generating Inc. has been sponsoring a water safety campaign at the lakes along the Yadkin River for more than 10 years. Providing free life jackets is one of several ways that Alcoa works with law enforcement agencies to promote water safety. The company also provides financial support to local sheriff departments for increased patrols of the lakes and sponsors an advertising campaign to remind people to “Put It On.”

North Carolina consistently ranks near the top of the list when it comes to boating. NC ranked 5th in the nation in boating accidents (139), 6th in boating injuries (90) and 10th in boating deaths (16) last year.

The number one cause of death in boating accidents is drowning, according to US Coast Guard. Statistics show that 77% of boating fatalities were the result of drowning.