By Bruce A. Cox
Special to the Post
Now that fall rains have somewhat relieved central
In what seems to be an attempt to inflame a difficult and contentious issue, your Nov. 15 editorial failed to consider key facts. Your readers and those at your publication should note that:
-Alcoa has been communicating regularly with the public, state and federal agencies, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission since August 2000 that central
-Alcoa led the charge to respond to this yearıs drought when inflows to High Rock Lake Reservoir dropped drastically in mid-May. At that time, High Rock was about 5.5 feet below full. Alcoa was the first to suggest and then hosted a drought summit on June 20 and invited N.C. and S.C. state agency staff, local elected officials, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the media to examine the issue. We asked participants for impact information at that meeting.
-Since the drought summit, Alcoa has collaborated
energetically with N.C. and S.C. officials and CP&L to balance water
resource needs in the face of an unprecedented natural disaster. Our primary
goal in this collaboration was protection of public water supply within the
Yadkin Project and extending nearly to the
-Drought has serious negative consequences for everyone, and this includes Alcoa. Your staff and readers may not realize that we have incurred substantial costs in lost generating capacity and exceptional amounts of staff time and resources, and none of these costs were passed on to others.
-In an August letter concerning the drought, the Environmental Protection Agency stated: ³EPA does not believe that APGI (Alcoa Power Generating Inc.) should be faulted for failing to plan for such a situation.² EPA recognized APGIıs requirements under its license with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ³to manage water levels for a variety of resources, needs and other activities,² including ³hydropower, downstream flow requirements, recreation, and wildlife issues.²
-As the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensee responsible for managing the Yadkin Project, Alcoa does not have the luxury of ³moving on² after this yearıs drought, as your editorial implied. We continue to work on solutions to balance the whole range of water resource issues in the
As Alcoa has stated throughout this crisis, drought was the core reason for low reservoir water levels, not its management of the Project. We also point out that since 1968, when the Project operating guides were first put in place, with the exception of a few abnormally dry and drought periods, High Rock Reservoir water levels have allowed a recreation season for the publicıs benefit. It was only after an extended period of extreme and exceptional drought that the reservoir experienced the impacts of the summer of 2002.
In closing, even though rainfall has returned, we will continue to analyze information from this yearıs experience to learn better ways to respond to such unprecedented conditions in the
Bruce A. Cox is vice president of Alcoa Power Generating Inc.