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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
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
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
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.