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High Rock Lake News


January 3, 2018

Cube Hydro just announced they will pull High Rock Lake down to 7 Feet below full pool by Friday January 5th.  Since they normally plan their generation schedule in advance you would expect them to give a little more advance notice of significant fluctuations to property owners.  If your boat is still in the water take whatever precautions are necessary to protect it from damage.

April 6, 2017

Today Cube Hydro representatives met with State Agency and Stakeholder groups representatives to begin discussions concerning the revisions to the existing Shoreline Management Plan.  Article 407 of the new project license identified 9 specific items that should be included in the revised SMP which must be filed for approval by FERC by September 1, 2018.  The consensus of the participants was that many of the updates could likely be addressed by updating the terminology used previously with terminology supplied by FERC as the currently accepted standard.  Those verbiage updates as well as the changes negotiated between stakeholders and Alcoa during the relicensing process and included in the Relicensing Settlement Agreement appear to address the bulk of the changes required by FERC and could reasonably be accomplished in a very timely manner.  Cube appeared to agree but stated the remaining changes would take more effort on their part to complete and noted the possibility of a few NEW changes that have not been discussed in the past.  These included potential changes to the existing "Lap Tree" policy, potential additional regulations concerning Water Willow, Ski Jump or Slalom Courses and Floating Trampolines as well as new "Guidance" documents for pier specifications  

FERC has also mandated updates to the project Recreation Plan, Rare Threatened and Endangered Species Plan and the Historic Properties Plan.  All of these plan updates must be completed and submitted to FERC by September 1, 2017.  Cube has proposed the following time schedule to complete the SMP revision process.

April 22, 2016

 Update Goals and Objectives

May 5, 2016

 Revise the Project Description

June 30, 2016

 Update Appendices A, B, C, D, and Project Maps

August 30, 2016

 Revise Recreation Resources Plan

September 29, 2016

 Revise Environment and Natural Resources Plan

November 15, 2016

 Produce completed DRAFT of the revised SMP

November 16 thru December 25

 Provide 30 day review period

January 12, 2017

 Submit the revised SMP to FERC for approval

While this schedule does not accomplish the implementation of the negotiated SMP changes included in the RSA within 3 months of license issuance as specified in section 2.4.2 of the RSA, it does provide an accelerated implementation schedule compared to the two year timeframe specified in Article 407 of the new license.  Cube agreed to investigate the possibility of a two stage filing with FERC to allow implementation of negotiated RSA items prior to the complete RSA revision but appeared doubtful this approach would be allowed by FERC.

At the conclusion of this meeting there were some additional discussions concerning the Recreation Plan updates, updates to the Cube Website specified in Appendix B of the new license and their general intentions concerning future operations as they relate to water levels at all lakes. 

Many of the participants were surprised to learn the NEW access area specified in the RSA for Rowan County and identified in the Recreation Plan was specified by Alcoa as a "swimming and beach" facility with NO launch ramps for boats.  As there are no existing "Access Areas" within the project without boat launch ramps the negotiators for this new facility intended it to be a full and complete "Access Area" as they exist at all other locations. 

Cube is still working on the required updates to their website to provide the information specified in Appendix B of the license and was receptive to some usability recommendations as they go forward.  Some of the required data is already available but is scattered on different pages of the site making it more difficult to view and understand the related information.  One of the welcome additions is the page that allows you to renew your pier permits online instead of having to mail documentation back and forth.  If you need to contact Cube Hydro Carolinas concerning any permitted activities please contact Karen Baldwin at (704) 422-5525 or

As for project operations, they stated there general intent is to operate within the new lake level regulations as closely as possible to the way the project has been voluntarily operated over the last ten years. This would mean keeping High Rock within a 1 to 3 foot below full Pool (-4 foot maximum) during the recreation season (April 1st thru November 1st) and the remaining lakes within 1 foot of full pool (-5 foot Maximum at Badin).  Most exceptions to this philosophy would be driven by low inflow to the project as compared to the discharge requirements throughout the year and the implementation of the Low Inflow Protocol if necessary.  

March 17, 2017

Cube Hydro responded to our last email with this reply From Karen Baldwin stating they are committed to project license compliance and are already working hard to meet the many compliance deadlines ahead of them this year.  She then went on to assure us they are concurrently beginning work on the updated Shoreline Management Plan which is due by September 2018.

We were pleasantly surprised on March 14th when we received an invitation from Jody Smet to the first SMP review meeting.  This is not a public meeting.  This meeting will consist of the agency and stakeholder group representatives that participated in the SMP Issue Advisory Group during the relicensing negotiations.  The goal is to review the recommendations that were negotiated and submitted to FERC in the Relicensing Settlement Agreement to verify those recommendations are still appropriate and supported by the group. 

Jody was a APGI contractor during the relicensing negotiations and worked as a project manager scheduling most of the meetings and tracking the progress of each group.  Seems she was contacted and hired by Cube Hydro Carolinas this week to manage the processes addressing the future compliance issues for Cube Hydro.  Her familiarity with the participants involved and the issues that were addressed during the relicensing process should provide a beneficial jump; start to the processes going forward.  Subsequent conversations with her indicates that Cube may share our belief that many of the requirements listed in Article 407 of the project license have already been addressed in the RSA.  They appear to be hopeful the SMP updates can be completed with a minimum amount of new work and could POSSIBLY be submitted to FERC for review and approval considerably in advance of the September 2018 deadline. 

March 8, 2017

Cube Hydro responded to our initial license questions with this EMAIL stating:

Article 409 is FERC’s “Standard Land Use Article”, which FERC includes in all license orders; it is not intended to be Project specific and is subject to other specific license conditions. 

Article 407 is Yadkin Project specific and requires the licensee to continue implementing the SMP as modified and approved by the Commission (FERC) in 2000.  The current SMP must remain in effect until FERC approves a revised SMP, which is also required by the Article.

This means that it may be two more years before the negotiated changes specific to the Shoreline Management Plan and the Recreation Plan included in the Relicensing Settlement Agreement MIGHT be approved and added to the plans that FERC has required Cube Hydro to update.  We sent this RESPONSE expressing our concerns and offering to help expedite the process of completing the update to these two plans in any way we could.

March 3, 2017

Last night the High Rock River Rats held their monthly meeting and invited Cube Hydro Carolinas representative Karen Baldwin to speak to the local residents concerning the future management of Project 2197 and address any questions they had concerning the new project licensee.  The most common questions concerned the recent drop of High Rock Lake to more than 4 feet below full pond and when the changes in the Relicensing Settlement Agreement would be implemented. 

Ms. Baldwin began her presentation by reading this letter from Mark Gross, VP Hydro Operations, which states "In granting the new FERC License the FERC did not approve or incorporate the Relicensing Settlement Agreement (RSA) filed with FERC on May 7, 2007.  As a result, FERC did not approve the modifications to the Yadkin Project Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) that were included in the RSA."  This statement caused us great concern as almost every change proposed by Alcoa and all of the Stakeholders involved in many years of negotiations was included in the RSA. The letter then went on to identify ONLY the provisions of the Shoreline Management Plan were not specifically included in the license articles.  Article 407 of the new license specifies that the licensee must file a revised SMP within two years of license issuance (September 22, 2016) and keep the current SMP in effect until they are notified by FERC that the revised SMP is approved.  This means that all of the changes to the SMP negotiated and agreed upon by Alcoa and the participating Stakeholders will be delayed up to two more years until Cube Hydro has submitted the revised SMP and FERC has approved it.

After reviewing the new 40 year license it appears there may be some conflict between Article 407 and Article 409 concerning Private Recreation Facilities.  References to Article 407 indicate that the SMP must be updated in order to change the previously identified "Land Use Classifications" to the currently accepted FERC standard designations.  It goes on to identify that the licensee referenced in Appendix D of the RSA and the licensee stated in the existing SMP must be updated to reflect the correct licensee.  Even though Alcoa requested the name "Cube Hydro Carolinas" be substituted everywhere in the license application, it appears the new license was actually issued to Alcoa and then the sale of the project and the change to the name of the licensee was approved at a later date.  Now that the licensee is Cube Hydro Carolinas it appears the referenced changes to the existing SMP must be done separately since the SMP is not an actual license document even though it is referenced repeatedly in the actual license.  None of the changes specified to the SMP in article 407 reference private recreational facilities or the guidelines established by the licensee for permitting these facilities which was probably one of the most important questions for those attending the meeting.

Article 409 on the other hand specifically identifies the "Use and Occupancy" guidelines that ARE incorporated in the new license.  Article 409b specifically identifies several types of "Use and Occupancy" activities which DO NOT require prior commission approval.  All of these identified activities ARE the changes many adjacent property owners fought for during the relicensing process and have been waiting patiently for throughout the last decade while the issuance of the new license was delayed.

If you have questions concerning this apparent contradiction, suggestions for additional changes to the updated SMP filing that are NOT included in the current RSA or if you would like to contact Cube Hydro Carolinas concerning any permitted activities please contact Karen Baldwin at (704) 422-5525 or

September 22, 2016

In case you missed it, today with very little fanfare FERC issued a new 40 year license to operate Project 2197.  This new license should incorporate all of the improvements and changes agreed to in the Relicensing Settlement Agreement negotiated over a 4 year period by representatives from SHRL and many other interest groups participating in the FERC Relicensing process.

This should clear the way for Alcoa to proceed with their proposal to sell Project 2197 to Cube Hydro Yadkin, LLC. 

August 13, 2016

It looks like many of the relicensing participants may not quite be ready to sit by and allow Alcoa and Cube Yadkin to just sell the project and transfer the licensee for Project 2197 to a completely NEW company that has only been in existence for a couple of months without a challenge. You should read the comments of The State of NC, NC Dept. of Environmental Quality, NC Wildlife Resources, City of Salisbury, American Rivers and New Energy Capital Partners as well as the rebuttal by Cube Yadkin to their challenges . Lets hope FERC at least gives their questions and concerns for the "interests of the Public" as defined in the Federal Power Act the proper consideration instead of just blindly rubber stamping the request in the interest of BIG MONEY investor profits and the significant fees paid to FERC each year based on the energy produced by the licensee.

August 1, 2016

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a notice soliciting "Comments" and "Motions to Intervene" regarding the application of APGI to transfer the FERC License for Project 2197 to Cube Hydro Yadkin, LLC. (an affiliate of Cube Hydro Carolinas, LLC. which is an Affiliate of Cube Hydro Partners, LLC.).  All of these recently formed PRIVATE Limited Liability Corporations (July 16, 2016 for Cybe Hydro Yadkin) are all apparently funded by I Squared Capital which is again a privately held LLC founded and managed by financial wizard Sadek Wahba who has obviously identified small independent hydro power generation facilities as an untapped source of huge financial gains for wealthy investors.  The APGI application requesting approval for "Transfer of License, substitution of Applicant, and Request for Expedited Consideration attempts to identify this series of affiliated LLCs as experienced owners and operators of numerous hydro electric facilities but the list of facilities owned by the Cube Hydro group reveals 14 very small generation facilities which combined only equals a fraction of the capacity of project 2197. More importantly, nothing listed has a similar potential to impact an entire River Basin such as the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin covering 7221 square miles in North Carolina and South Carolina.

The Application does state that Cube Hydro Yadkin would be substituted as the applicant in the still pending (8 years overdue) FERC License Application for Project 2197 and that they would be bound by the terms included in the Relicensing Settlement Agreement that was negotiated with the identified stakeholder groups during the relicensing process.

Throughout the Relicensing Settlement Negotiations for Project 2197 several of the stakeholder groups questioned the "entitlement" of Alcoa to continue as the future licensee of the project. In the past Alcoa had touted their Aluminum Smelting operations as providing a great financial benefit to communities surrounding the project to demonstrate the need/benefit to the general public in their past FERC license applications.  Most of those positive benefits disappeared with the closing of the facilities and the discovery of numerous hazardous waste sites surrounding the plant and the resulting contamination of ground water supplies. Since Duke Power Co. generally has abundant generation capacity to service all of the communities surrounding the project and is regulated by the NC Utilities Commission,  about the only positive benefit to the general public for allowing Alcoa to continue as the project licensee and operating as an unregulated power generator was the potential to use that license as leverage to force them into cleaning up their toxic waste sites surrounding the abandoned facilities.  It appears this pending sale of Project 2197 to a group of private financial investors with virtually NO PUBLIC ACCOUNTING of sale price, their ongoing operations and subsequent windfall profits driven by the free use of NC natural resources could become another one of those "Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it" lessons in life.     

If you wish to submit "Comments" or a "Motion to Intervene" in this process you have until August 30, 2016 to submit your documents to FERC as outlined in the notification referenced above.







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Last modified: February 21, 2018