Stanly County Commissioners Rebut Alcoa Poll on the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project

Stanly County, NC, July 02, 2008 --( In its latest attempt in its struggle to secure renewal of a 50-year federal license for a monopoly on hydroelectric power from the Yadkin River in Stanly County (“the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project”), the multinational firm Alcoa has commissioned a poll that it claims shows that “the voters of North Carolina strongly believe that it is a very bad idea for the state government to take over the Alcoa hydroelectric dams and power plant.” According to Stanly County Board of Commissioners, the survey actually distorts the debate by asking skewed questions deliberately designed to favor Alcoa’s position.

Alcoa commissioned the telephone poll of 500 likely N.C. voters from McLaughlin and Associates of Alexandria, Va., which involved seven questions on the Project, some prefaced by incomplete information. Stanly County Commissioners question not only the content but also the timing of the release – it came out while members of the House and Senate Conference Committees were debating a provision in next year’s budget to create the Yadkin Study Commission, even though the three-day survey had been completed on June 22. Such a commission would merely examine the issues involved in the relicensing over the next year while maintaining the status quo for the Project. Alcoa was unsuccessful in trying to stop the formation of the study commission in the Senate budget hearings.

The Stanly County Commissioners are on record as opposing Alcoa’s operation of the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project and have asked the state to intervene in the matter, saying that the state’s water rights for a public resource such as the Yadkin River should take precedence over a private firm such as Alcoa having an unlimited monopoly on it. Similar resolutions have been signed by Davidson, Randolph, Iredell, Anson, Cabarrus and Union County Boards of Commissioners, as well as the Centralina Council of Governments.

To help inform all North Carolinians of the facts at hand, the Stanly County Commissioners have released specific points to respond directly to Alcoa’s “push poll.” They are set out and available online at:

“Three months ago, we released a statement correcting a ‘fact sheet’ by Alcoa regarding the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project,” said County Manager Jerry Myers. “Now we are doing the same with a biased survey they commissioned. Obviously, Alcoa officials are more interested in spinning the debate than answering the questions we and other local and state leaders have asked regarding their involvement in the Project, including if and how Alcoa plans to address environmental contamination caused by their operations, and if and how they plan to protect the Yadkin as a natural resource over the next 50 years.”

About This Effort:
In 1958, Alcoa, the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum, secured a federal hydroelectric license for the Yadkin Project on the Yadkin River in Stanly, Davidson, Montgomery and Rowan Counties in the Central Piedmont. In return, Alcoa promised aluminum manufacturing jobs for Stanly County for years to come. Alcoa has now essentially disappeared as a major employer in the region and shut down its manufacturing plants, but it wants to continue reaping the benefits of the Yadkin River after its license expires in April of this year. In addition, Alcoa discharged hazardous pollutants into North Carolina air and waterways for decades while harvesting immense profits from the Yadkin River, but has yet to finish cleaning up that contamination. It has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to obtain another 50-year license. If Alcoa is successful, one of North Carolina’s most valuable water resources will be used to maximize Alcoa’s profits, instead of being used to benefit the people of North Carolina, who themselves are in dire need of affordable electricity, local economic development, and clean, adequate drinking water.

Stanly County
Patty Briguglio