Stanly County, ALCOA Reach Agreement

Stanly County Commissioners and aluminum company ALCOA have reached an end to their impasse over the operation of hydroelectric plants on the Yadkin River.

Falls Dam, completed in 1919, sits at Yadkin River mile 234. It is one of four dams built on the Yadkin River by aluminum maker ALCOA. (James Willamore photo, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Falls Dam, completed in 1919, sits at Yadkin River mile 234. It is one of four dams built on the Yadkin River by aluminum maker ALCOA. (James Willamore photo, CC BY-SA 2.0)

After years of legal battles, the commissioners last night voted 3-to-2 to accept an economic incentive package from ALCOA and to end its opposition to the company’s application to relicense operation of the dams for the next 50 years. Stanly County had contested the federal license on the basis of water quality issues.

In the end, ALCOA agreed to give Stanly County $3 million in cash, $1 million of which is to be used specifically for economic development. ALCOA has also offered a 20-acre tract of land that could be used for a water treatment plant, which could result in the withdrawal of more water from the Yadkin River just north of Lake Tillery and the Pee Dee River.

The Stanly News & Press quotes Stanly County Commission Chair Gene McIntyre as saying, “(The) agreement provides significant investment in economic development and ensures that Stanly County will have long-term access to clean and affordable water….”

ALCOA built four dams – Falls, High Rock, Narrows and Tuckertown – to provide power for its aluminum smelting operation at Badin. That plant closed in 2002, and the company has continued to operate the dams to produce electricity that it provides wholesale to public utility companies.

Montgomery County Commissioners have not been part of the legal battles with ALCOA. Six years ago today (May 7, 2007), Montgomery County was one of 23 entities that signed a settlement agreement with ALCOA to allow the company to proceed with relicensing.

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