Cube Hydro buys 210-MW Yadkin hydroelectric project from Alcoa

Yadkin Hydropower Projects

Cube Hydro Carolinas LLC has reached an agreement with Alcoa Power Generating Inc. to purchase and upgrade four hydropower projects located on the Yadkin River in North Carolina.

Included in the deal are the 31-MW Yadkin Falls, 108-MW Narrows, 38-MW Tuckertown, and 33-MW High Rock hydroelectric plants.

"We are excited to expand our presence into North Carolina to operate and upgrade the plants on the Yadkin River," said Cube Hydro CEO Dr. Kristina M. Johnson. "We are committed to being good stewards of these well-run hydropower plants that have a long history of generating reliable, carbon-free electricity."

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Alcoa had been embroiled in a years-long attempt by the state of North Carolina to take over the project after the state argued Alcoa closed its Badin, N.C., aluminum smelter that had been powered by Yadkin, moved the jobs overseas, and retained the four-plant hydro project to sell its electricity.

The state repeatedly balked at granting the project Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification, which is necessary before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could relicense the project. Previous Gov. Beverly Perdue also unsuccessfully urged FERC to reject Alcoa Power Generating's relicense to allow the state to take ownership of the project.

In a more recent attack, the North Carolina Department of Administration first filed a lawsuit Aug. 2, 2013, in Wake County Superior Court seeking a declaratory judgment that the navigable portions of the Yadkin River bed under the project are the property of the state. The state asked the court to find that the Yadkin River bed under the dams is the sole and exclusive property of North Carolina, and therefore, the state owns an interest in the dams.

Only hours later, the North Carolina Division of Water Resources denied 401 water quality certification to the project saying the lawsuit filed by the state asserts that North Carolina owns the riverbed and portions of the dams standing on the riverbed. DWR said it could not consider the application valid until ownership of the riverbed is decided. Alcoa then filed a state administrative appeal of the 401 denial.

Most recently, reported in June 2015 that a North Carolina administrative law judge had overturned the state's denial of water quality certification intended to prevent FERC relicense the project.

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