How hydroelectric licensing REALLY works at FERC Project 2197



There are HUGE profits in a business that sets up its manufacturing facilities in the 1920's, runs the same machinery for over 80 years, pays NOTHING for the raw materials necessary to produce their products, operates the entire manufacturing facility with only a handful of employees, pays the bare minimum in property taxes on their facilities, operates outside the regulations imposed by the NC Utilities Commission and is virtually exempt from new Federal and State regulations for up to 50 years.  Anyone fortunate enough to own a business of this nature which routinely produces profits in excess of 200% will spend any amount of money necessary to avoid restrictions of any kind.  As demonstrated in 2002, there is virtually NO incentive for them to voluntarily "Do the Right Thing".  Every State and Federal Agency as well as every program designed to protect the natural resources they are freely allowed to use is funded by YOU with your tax dollars. While every citizen of NC is technically the owner of the natural resource and your tax dollars pay for almost everything necessary to protect these resources, you have NO statutory authority and your opinions carry little weight. Your taxes pay the salaries of all the State and Federal Agency representatives that were supposed to participate in relicensing on your behalf.  Have any of those agencies asked you what you think or given you the opportunity to voice your opinion?  They don't ask because they are highly educated in these matters and obviously know more than the rest of us.  Unfortunately they are also overworked like many of us and are participating in many of these relicensing proceedings at the same time.  They simply don't have the time to devote to the Yadkin project that they should.  All of the State Agency representatives have the same boss at the top.  Bill Ross is the Secretary of the NC Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources.  He has an impressive background in environmental matters, but his personal passion has always been land conservation.  If your excessively profitable business was trying influence the State Agencies with statutory authority to settle for something less than "The Right Thing", what would you do?  Simple, offer up 1400 acres of land totally unrelated to addressing the problems in the watershed as a "Land Conservation" offering.  Now what would you do if your bosses, bosses, boss told you to agree to terms that offered the absolute bare minimum of protection to the watershed as soon as the land deal was offered.  I know what most people who wanted to remain employed would do. This is a great deal for APGI since the offering is nothing more than an agreement to discuss selling the land at an agreeable price.  SWEET, they get rid of land they have no use for, don't have to pay taxes on it any longer and get the State regulators to agree to the absolute bare minimum of changes in the operation of the project!

This should give you a pretty good idea of why the Environmental Policy Act and the Electric Consumers Protection Act of 1986 exist.  Now it is up to you to convince FERC either directly or through our elected officials to honor the terms of these pieces of legislation and "Do the Right Thing". There is nothing in the Federal Power Act that directs FERC to shortcut or circumvent these Acts of Congress. They are under no obligation to maximize or guarantee any level of profits for the licensee.  You can rest assured HUGE bucks are being spent by the companies making the HUGE profits from our natural resources to insure the restrictions they are required to work under are the absolute bare minimum!!  We have two opportunities left to convince FERC to honor the regulations as they exist and "Do the Right Thing".  The first is the public "scoping" meetings scheduled on January 23rd and 24th. This is YOUR chance to "Do the Right Thing" and stand up for your rights or support those who do. These meetings will be conducted by several people from FERC who in all probability have never seen High Rock Lake. Their only view of High Rock Lake, how it is used by the public, and how it is managed by APGI will be limited to a quick tour (most likely at near full pond) on a quiet winter weekday.  Nothing could be further from a true representation from how High Rock Lake is used and managed.  The information they have to base their decisions on is pretty much limited to what APGI wants them to know, written by APGI's consultants and Public Relations people and slanted to whatever extent possible by APGI's corporate legal team.  The second opportunity remaining is to convince your elected officials to stand up and TRULY represent the interests of the citizens who elected them. This can be a powerful option but it will take a significant effort on everyones part to make them understand this IS an important issue to the citizens they represent.


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