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May 10, 2004

Alcoa, Environmental, Regulatory Groups Gather To Sign Historic Agreement

ALCOA, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 10, 2004--More than 20 national and local environmental and regulatory groups came together with Alcoa Power Generating Inc. in an historic signing ceremony Monday overlooking Calderwood Lake, officially agreeing to a pact that will preserve more than 10,000 acres of land.

Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI) must renew its license to operate the Tapoco Project and its four hydroelectric dam facilities in Tennessee and North Carolina through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The four hydroelectric developments are: Chilhowee, Calderwood, Cheoah and Santeetlah.

The current license expires in February 2005, and APGI actually began the re-licensing process seven years ago. At that time, APGI began discussions with federal and state agencies, surrounding communities and environmental organizations, seeking their support for re-licensing. The result of these discussions is the Agreement. A significant part of the Agreement is a land exchange and conservation Agreement between APGI, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the U.S. Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy.

"Alcoa Power is proud to bring together these diverse groups in a consensus document protecting the environment and sustaining hydropower generation," said Kevin Anton, President of Alcoa Materials Management.

Representatives from Alcoa Inc. and APGI, along with environmental and regulatory groups' representatives, gathered at Calderwood Overlook on Highway 129 in Blount County for the ceremonial signing Agreement. Also speaking at the ceremony was Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who, on April 19, introduced key legislation that would enable FERC approval of this Agreement. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. also participated in the ceremony.

"This is a textbook example of how a major American company can work with communities and conservation organizations to help Americans keep a high standard of living as well as to conserve the environment," Alexander said.

The legislation went before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks in a hearing on April 27. The land exchange involves the Park and APGI. The Park will transfer 100 acres of land submerged under Calderwood Lake to Alcoa in exchange for 186 acres of land that is already within Park boundaries. In order to make the settlement Agreement effective, Congress must authorize these land exchanges.

In addition, APGI will grant, at no cost, a permanent easement for 5,700 acres to The Nature Conservancy. This land, opened for recreational opportunities, sits between the Park and Cherokee National Forest. The Nature Conservancy will have the option to buy this land from APGI and re-sell it to the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, or Tennessee Wildlife Resources, assuring its long-term protection.

As part of the Agreement, APGI will grant The Nature Conservancy a 40-year term easement on 4,000 acres of land. The land will return to APGI at the end of the 40 years. APGI will establish a conservation fund at $100,000 per year for natural resource stewardship and enhancement activities in Tennessee, such as threatened and endangered species recovery efforts, eco-system enhancements and recreation, management and control of exotic species, and environmental outreach and education directly related to these lands. The fund will be overseen by groups signing the agreement.

"This is one of the most vast and undisturbed 'wilderness' regions in the Eastern United States, and the only such area in the Southern Appalachians. We will be able to protect the entire Tallassee Creek watershed, perhaps the only remaining unprotected high-elevation, low-gradient stream in the region," said Steve McCormick, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy.

Additional measures called for under the Agreement for the North Carolina portion of the hydroelectric project include augmenting flows into the Cheoah River, a conservation fund, and constructing new and improving existing recreation facilities.

Signatories of the Agreement are: Alcoa Power Generating Inc., American Rivers, Blount County, City of Alcoa, City of Maryville, Cross Creek Property Owners Association, Friends of Lake Santeetlah, Graham County, N.C., National Park Service, National Parks Conservation Association, North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, The Nature Conservancy's Tennessee Chapter, Tennessee Clean Water Network, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Town of Lake Santeetlah, Town of Robbinsville, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and Western North Carolina Alliance.