State News

Alcoa says contested NC dams generated $8M profit

Posted March 4, 2011 7:11 a.m. EST

— Alcoa Inc. says the Yadkin River hydroelectric dams it's fighting to continue operating returned profits of nearly $8 million last year.

The company is releasing financial statements Friday. The profits are based on sales of $31 million.

Alcoa vice president Kevin Anton explained why the company is waging a determined fight with North Carolina officials for a renewed federal operating license of up to 50 years. He told The Associated Press the corporation sees itself as an energy company within the country's largest aluminum maker.

State officials briefed by the company Thursday had no immediate comment.

Alcoa once employed hundreds in an aluminum plant near the Yadkin River. The plant closed in 2007, but the company receives millions of dollars selling the electricity that the four hydroelectric dams generate.

The state Division of Water Quality initially approved Alcoa's plans in 2009, but since then, state leaders, including Gov. Beverly Perdue, have opposed the company's effort to get federal approval for a new operating permit.

State leaders have said that Alcoa makes a profit while the state receives no benefit. They want to regain control over the dams and the electricity they produce.

The latest skirmish happened in December, when the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources claimed the company intentionally withheld information about water quality. Alcoa officials said they never withheld any material information and challenged the revocation.

Federal regulators were expected to make a decision on Alcoa's application in 2011, but the timeframe is now unclear since the state revoked the certification.

A withdrawal of North Carolina's certification would essentially block Alcoa from getting federal approval.

Alcoa also operates hydroelectric dams on the North Carolina-Tennessee border, Quebec, Brazil, and Central America.