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Alcoa asks regulators to deny Perdue's request

http://66.225.205.104/JR20090417a.mp3

Aluminum company Alcoa is asking federal regulators to deny Governor Bev Perdue's request for an emergency hearing in the Yadkin River dispute. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: Alcoa is seeking a 50-year renewal of its license to operate four hydropower dams on the Yakdin River and sell that electricity on the wholesale market. Perdue says the company should not be allowed to profit from the river because it no longer operates the aluminum smelter the dams were built to support. In 2007, Alcoa negotiated a relicensing agreement with the state department of Environmental and Natural Resources and various community groups. But Perdue says she's unhappy with it and wants the federal government to turn the hydropower project over to the state's control. Alcoa Power Generating spokesman Gene Ellis says Perdue's concerns were already addressed in previous negotiations. "We have listened very carefully as we have gone through this relicensing process to the issues that were raised to us and came to an agreement where 23 parties including agencies of the State of North Carolina agreed this is the right way for this project to be operated in the future," says Ellis. Residents who live near Badin and High Rock lakes - which are part of Alcoa's hydropower project - have come out in support of the company. Most of the opposition has come from Stanly County officials and communities downriver. State lawmakers have also signaled their opposition to the license. This week a legislative committee voted unanimously to create a trust that would manage Alcoa's hydropower project if it came under the state's control.