For nearly 100 years, Alcoa-Yadkin has been generating clean renewable energy from four hydroelectric dams along the Yadkin River in central North Carolina. These dams, collectively known as the Yadkin Project, are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Alcoa-Yadkin received a 50-year license for the project in 1958 and is currently working to renew its federal license with FERC. It currently operates the Yadkin Project under a series of one-year licenses that are automatically renewed.
There is strong support for granting Alcoa-Yadkin a new long-term license. The company reached a Relicensing Settlement Agreement that is supported by 25 organizations, and FERC staff recommended renewing the license after two years of evaluation.
The relicensing agreement was signed by:
- State agencies specializing in water issues
The NC Division of Water Resources and the NC Division of Water Quality
The SC Department of Natural Resources
- One of the Yadkin River’s largest water users
The City of Albemarle
- Leading environmental interest groups
American Rivers, The Nature Conservancy, Land Trust for Central North Carolina,
The SC Coastal Conservation League
- Large organizations representing local homeowners and recreational users
High Rock Lake Association, Badin Lake Association, Uwharrie Point Community Association
- Local governments
The Town of Badin, The City of Albemarle, Montgomery County, Rowan County. Note: Davidson County and Stanly County added their support to the relicensing agreement in 2013.
- Relicensing Began in 2002: Alcoa-Yadkin officially began the relicensing process in September 2002 and worked closely with stakeholders for more than five years to address key issues related to the Yadkin Project and its role within the Yadkin-Pee Dee River watershed.
- Significant Public Involvement and Government Representation: More than 100 people participated in Issue Advisory Groups that were established in February 2003, and more than 30 organizations participated in the settlement negotiations.
- North Carolina and South Carolina state agencies
- Federal agencies, including US EPA, US Fish & Wildlife Service and US Forest Service
- Local governments including Montgomery, Rowan, Davidson and Stanly counties
- Environmental interest groups, including American Rivers and The Nature Conservancy
- Local homeowners, including High Rock Lake Association and Badin Lake Association
Click here for a complete list of relicensing participants.
- Environmental Studies: A total of 25 technical studies were conducted from 2003 to 2005. The studies, recommended by relicensing participants, focused on issues such as water quality, wetlands, fisheries, aquatic habitat, rare species, wildlife and terrestrial habitat, recreation, and historic and prehistoric cultural issues. Click here for a complete list and brief description of relicensing studies.
- Settlement Negotiations: As part of its effort to publicly engage stakeholders, Alcoa pursued a relicensing settlement agreement that would address local interests and concerns. After two years of negotiations, an agreement was reached and submitted to FERC in 2007.
- Relicensing Agreement: A Relicensing Settlement Agreement (RSA) was submitted to FERC on May 7, 2007. The agreement — supported by 23 stakeholder groups — will improve water quality, increase water withdrawals by local communities and provide additional protections to the water supply during times of drought. Click here for a summary of the relicensing agreement.
- FERC Staff Supports Renewing Alcoa’s License: Following two years of study, FERC staff issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Yadkin Project in April 2008. It adopts the elements of the Relicensing Settlement Agreement and recommends renewing Alcoa-Yadkin’s license.
- 401 Water Quality Certificate: Alcoa-Yadkin is currently appealing the denial of its application for a 401 water quality certificate. The company has committed to invest approximately $80 million once it receives a new license to continue improving water quality at the Yadkin Project. Alcoa-Yadkin must receive a water quality certificate from the state — demonstrating that it will meet state water quality standards — as part of the FERC relicensing process.