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August 27, 2010
Alcoa Kicks-Off Cheoah Dam Modernization Project
New Generators, Turbines, Transformers to Increase Efficiency
ROBBINSVILLE, N.C.--Alcoa (NYSE:AA) today kicked off a $110 million modernization project at
Cheoah Dam, one of four hydroelectric dams that make up Alcoa Power
Generating Inc.’s Tapoco Project. The modernization effort will increase
the dam’s efficiency and energy output and increase the life of the dam
by at least another 40-50 years.
“Hydropower is clean, renewable, reliable and efficient,” said Rick
Bowen, Alcoa Energy President. “These attributes equal sustainability –
sustainable energy and sustainable jobs. That’s why we are looking
forward to replacing the four 90-year-old Francis turbines with four new
high-efficiency turbines, generators, and transformers which will
provide an additional 22 megawatts of generating capacity at APGI’s
Tapoco Cheoah plant.”
Alcoa Energy is a global producer, controlling nearly 3,000 megawatts of
generating capacity to provide for the energy needs of Alcoa’s worldwide
smelting and refining system as well as the needs of regional wholesale
markets. The business includes Alcoa Power Generating Inc., which owns
and manages the 360-megawatt Tapoco system.
“Alcoa Energy is pleased to be actively improving our green energy
assets to increase our energy self-sufficiency. It is an added advantage
that our reservoirs offer a variety of recreational opportunities and
provide important habitat for plants, fish and wildlife,” Bowen said.
The modernization project was given a jump start when the U.S.
Department of Energy announced it would award Alcoa a $12.95 million
grant as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The
grant was issued by DOE’s Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program.
Jacques Beaudry-Losique, Wind & Water Program Manager for the DOE Office
of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, joined Bowen at the kick-off
"Upgrades like the ones planned for Cheoah Dam represent significant
opportunities to make environmentally sound hydropower even more
cost-effective. This project will boost four turbines' generating
capacity by 28%, and serves as a terrific example of how the Recovery
Act can expand clean energy while putting people to work,"
When announcing the grant last year, DOE Secretary Steven Chu said, “One
of the best opportunities we have to increase our supply of clean energy
is by bringing our hydropower systems into the 21st Century.
With this investment, we can create jobs, help our environment and give
more renewable power to our economy without building a single new dam.”
DOE sought cost-shared projects that upgrade existing hydropower
facilities without requiring significant civil works modifications to
dams, allowing for them to be developed quickly to help create jobs and
stimulate the economy.
The first phase of the modernization project will include the upgrade of
two of the dam’s five power generation units. Specifically, first phase
objectives for this DOE cost-shared project are to purchase four new
high-efficiency turbines, generators, and transformers, upgrade the
balance of plant equipment, and complete installation of two units.
Another two units will be upgraded during phase two of the project and
will increase Cheoah’s total capacity to 140 MW and add 40 to 50 years
of expected useful life to the facility without requiring any
modifications to the dam and without any significant regulatory delay.
In total the site has 5 units. Unit 5 was built in 1949 and the
generator was rebuilt in 1995. Unit 5 is a 30MW unit and does not
“I am honored to be able to congratulate Alcoa and help announce a major
modernization of the Cheoah Dam, which has provided hundreds of job
opportunities and enormous amounts of clean energy throughout its
100-year history,” said Rep. Heath Shuler (D-North Carolina).
“The $110 million investment Alcoa is making to ensure the success of
this project underlines the tremendous impact the Dam has had, and will
continue to have, on economic prosperity throughout Western North
The modernization follows the recent relicensing of the Tapoco project
by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The new 40-year license was
effective March 1, 2005 and outlines protection, mitigation, and
enhancement measures for the Project that address ecological resources
as well as other beneficial uses of the Cheoah and Little Tennessee
Rivers, including hydropower generation, watershed protection,
endangered species enhancement, fish passage and recreational
Construction began on Cheoah Dam in 1916 and was completed in 1919. At
the time of completion, Cheoah was the world’s highest overflow dam at
225 feet. The dam was made famous by serving as the backdrop of the jump
scene in the 1993 major motion picture, The Fugitive, starring
Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum, fabricated
aluminum and alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum
industry, Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the
aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial
transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the
past 120 years. Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled
products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa® wheels,
fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building
systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as
titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral
part of Alcoa’s operating practices and the product design and
engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow
Jones Sustainability Index for eight consecutive years and approximately
75 percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in
active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 59,000 people in 31
countries across the world. More information can be found at www.alcoa.com.
Alcoa Power Generating Inc. ("APGI") is a wholly-owned subsidiary of
Alcoa Inc. ("Alcoa"), the nation’s (and the world’s) leading producer of
primary aluminum and fabricated aluminum. APGI exists primarily to
generate, purchase or manage electricity for Alcoa’s use in its aluminum
smelters and other industrial processes.