FERC Issues Yadkin Project Impact Statement

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement on April 18 regarding the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project operated by Alcoa Power Generating Inc. and the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Hydroelectric Project operated by Progress Energy. The document contains many of the same findings included in the draft EIS (September 2007) and continues to support the Relicensing Settlement Agreement for the Yadkin Project.

"This is one of the last major milestones in the relicensing process and moves us closer to the issuance of a new license," said Gene Ellis, Alcoa Power Generating licensing and property manager. "Our new license will improve water quality, allow for increased water withdrawals from the Yadkin River, keep more water in the reservoirs during periods of drought, create new recreational opportunities, and protect more than 6,000 acres for conservation, recreation and game."

After considering all relevant economic and environmental concerns, FERC staff support a new license for the Yadkin Project. The executive summary of the final EIS states:

"Based on our independent analysis of the Yadkin Project and the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Project, including our consideration of all relevant economic and environmental concerns, we conclude that issuing new licenses for the projects as proposed by Alcoa Generating and Progress Energy, along with staff's modifications and additions to those proposals, would be best adapted to a comprehensive plan for the proper use, conservation, and development of the Yadkin and Pee Dee rivers."

The Final EIS reiterates the previous determination by FERC staff that a federal takeover of the project will not be considered. In a section titled, "Other Alternatives Considered But Eliminated From Detailed Study" (p. 35), the document states:

"Federal Government Takeover: We do not consider federal takeover to be a reasonable alternative for the projects. Federal takeover of the projects would require congressional approval. While that fact alone would not preclude further consideration of this alternative, there is currently no evidence showing that a federal takeover should be recommended to Congress. No federal agency has suggested that federal takeover would be appropriate, and no federal agency has expressed an interest in operating the projects."

Alcoa officials expect FERC to issue a new license within three to five months. Since the new license will be issued after the current license expires on April 30, FERC will issue an annual license for the Yadkin Project on or before that date. APGI will operate under the annual license until a new license takes effect.

A complete copy of the Final Environmental Impact Statement is available at http://www.ferc.gov using the "eLibrary" link.

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