As Cube Hydro Carolinas prepares to assume ownership of Alcoa’s four hydroelectric power plants, it also remains committed to fulfilling the seller’s relicensing settlement agreement.

Stanly County stands to gain financially with the settlement in terms of cash, land, water and capital investments for various projects.

In addition to financial provisions for Stanly, the relicensing settlement ensures environmental protections, recreational enhancements and other community benefits.

However, it all depends on the company acquiring the long-awaited Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license and not the anticipated sale of Alcoa Power Generating Incorporated’s power facilities. Once the long-term license is secured, the terms of the settlement will be honored, according to Cube Hydro officials.

Both Cube Hydro and Alcoa remain confident the FERC license for the Yadkin Project is imminent, pending a favorable ruling by the appellate court about ownership of the respective dams’ riverbeds. A ruling is expected by the end of the year, about the same time as the purchase of Alcoa’s power plants conclude.

A 2013 settlement between APGI and Stanly County calls for the power company to pay Stanly County $3 million, $2 million for the county’s sole discretion and $1 million earmarked for economic development. Alcoa is also to pay Stanly another $1 million ($100,000 for each year a new FERC license exceeds 40 years, but capped at 50 years).

The settlement also includes that Alcoa and Stanly work in concert toward economic development of the Badin Business Park.

Scheduled investments to improve water quality, preserve land, protect habitat and enhance recreational opportunities along the Yadkin River include:

Environmental Protections

Improved Water Quality: Alcoa will invest up to $80 million to install state-of-the-art aeration technology that will increase dissolved oxygen levels and improve water quality in the Yadkin River. It has already invested more than $5 million to enhance water quality.

Long-Term Land Protection: Alcoa will donate or make available for purchase more than 6,000 acres (roughly 40 percent of its land holdings) for recreation, game lands or conservation.

 Improved Drought Protection: Alcoa will reduce generation and send less water downstream to preserve reservoir water levels during times of drought.

Recreational Enhancements

Expansion of Morrow Mountain State Park: Alcoa will donate more than 1,000 acres of land for the expansion of Morrow Mountain State Park.

A New Waterfront Park in Badin: Alcoa will donate 14 acres to the town of Badin for a new public park along the Badin Lake waterfront. A master plan for the park has already been completed.

New Recreational Facilities: Alcoa will invest more than $1 million to create new and upgraded recreation facilities, including a new public swim area in Rowan County, new tailwater fishing access areas and new fishing piers and camp sites.

Higher Water Levels and an Extended Recreation Season: Alcoa will extend the recreation season at High Rock Lake by three months and adjust its operations to keep more water in the lake.

Protection of Eagle Point Nature Preserve: Alcoa will donate 63 acres of land to Rowan County for the continued protection and public access to the Eagle Point Nature Preserve.

Community Benefits

More Drinking Water: The city of Albemarle may increase water withdraws up to 30 million gallons per day, pending FERC approval. That is four times greater than its current water consumption.

To submit story ideas, contact Ritchie Starnes at (704) 982-2121 ext. 20 or email ritchie@stanlynews