Federal Judge To Decide Dam Ownership

Federal Judge To Decide Dam Ownership

10:09pm Aug 27, 2015
The Narrows Dam on the Yadkin River. This is one of four dams operated by Alcoa on the Yadkin.
James Willamor via Flickr

A federal judge will determine if Alcoa legally owns four Yadkin River dams. The hydroelectric dams have been operated by the aluminum giant for nearly a century.

A North Carolina lawsuit challenging that ownership is based on whether Alcoa owns the riverbed under the dams.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle on Thursday questioned lawyers for the state and the company. Boyle asked state attorney Donald Teeter whether the lawsuit sought to punish Alcoa for closing its Stanly County aluminum smelter in 2007 where hundreds once worked.

The company has sold the electric power from the dams in the years since then for more than $175 million. Alcoa wants a federal license to allow it or a future buyer to operate the dams for up to 50 more years.

Teeter said the lawsuit followed Alcoa telling legislators it owned the riverbed outright rather than using it with the state's consent.

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