Tuesday, April 7, 2009 — Dear Governor Perdue:
This letter is to express our concerns in connection with the delay of the approval of the application of Alcoa Power Generating, Inc. pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Although you have been made aware of the issues being raised by those communities who are in favor of a delay and intervention by the state of NC, we feel you should also be aware of the seriously negative economic effect the delay is having on the Davidson County side of High Rock Lake.
As you are certainly well-aware, over the past few years, Davidson County has suffered extreme economic decline due to the offshore outsourcing of both the textile and furniture industries, formerly our lifeline. Without these industries, what will be our highest source of revenue in the future?
We contend it is tourism and leisure.
People are drawn here because of the NC Barbecue Festival, Bob Timberlake Gallery and Industries, Childress Vineyards, more than 50 additional vineyards in the Yadkin Valley, and High Rock Lake. Of these attractions, High Rock Lake stands to be the one that will bring more “permanent” money to our county as the snowbirds continue to move south and those in neighboring counties are investing in “stay-cation” second homes.
Under the new rules laid out in the Relicensing Settlement Agreement, formerly “un-sellable” property becomes viable.
For example, current rules mandate 200 feet of shoreline and an 8 foot water depth to construct a private pier.
Under the new rules, if a 50 foot lot was platted before 1987 and has a water depth of at least 6 feet, a private pier will be allowed.
Also, the proposed draw-down schedule and equalization of water levels among reservoirs means High Rock will no longer be “Dry Rock” and the levels will extend our leisure season.
These changes will create millions of dollars of potential sellable property that otherwise is not attractive to those seeking lakefront property.
With the extreme decline in the real estate market in general, the delay of these properties becoming sellable is having a serious impact on our new economic lifeline – bringing visitors and new residents to the 2nd largest lake in NC and Davidson County.
As a group of investors, we join with realtors, business owners, and other concerned residents of Davidson County, and urge you to consider that although it may have been appropriate to delay the renewal of Alcoa’s license prior to the devastating decline of the economy, to delay any longer is only compounding the negative economic impact in our community and possibly others who border the lake. Furthermore:
n The communities raising issues to cause the delay had nearly four years, during well-advertised and well-attended pre-application meetings to express their concerns and get the state of NC involved. MOST of the interested parties signed the Relicensing Settlement Agreement, and in this country, doesn’t the majority rule?
n We feel that given the state’s budget shortfall and the overall economic troubles facing our nation, we must invest our tax dollars wisely and work to attract new businesses to our state.
The fact that Stanly County has spent $1 million in taxpayer money — and wants the State of North Carolina to spends hundreds of millions more to take over Alcoa’s business — is very concerning.
n Efforts to take over the Yadkin Project set a dangerous precedent and are bad for business in North Carolina.
We certainly agree with Albemarle Mayor Whit Whitley, as do many residents of Stanly County, and share his concerns that these efforts will make it more difficult to attract new companies to both Stanly and Davidson Counties.
n The Yadkin Project is one of more than 20 privately-owned hydropower plants in North Carolina and should be treated in the same manner as other hydro projects. Established state and federal processes should be allowed to continue without interference or delay.
n With the installation of new technology that will increase dissolved oxygen levels, discharges from the Yadkin Project will meet all applicable water quality standards.
The Division of Water Quality (DWQ) review of the water quality application should focus on the quality of water being discharged from the dams and not be swayed by emotions or political influence.
n The important environmental and recreational benefits that were negotiated during the relicensing process are being delayed because of a few vocal critics.
A new license will allow ALL North Carolina residents to reap the benefits associated with new recreational opportunities, more stable water levels, improved water quality, and increased land conservation.
The majority of the stakeholders signed the Agreement and many of us based our business plans on those agreements, assuming that even though SOME did not get what they wanted in the agreement, MOST did – a compromise.
No matter who “owns” or manages the reservoirs, there are going to be some who are unhappy with the decisions and it will be impossible to make everyone happy.
We believe, in light of the unprecedented state of our current economy, that more focus should be placed on how we can increase revenue and for Davidson County - that means allowing FERC approval of Alcoa’s license renewal application.
Beth Livingston, Managing Member
Golden WEB Properties, LLC
Coral Sands Point, LLC
Extra Quarters Park Cabins, LLC