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Alcoa's NC Jobs-for-license Offer, A Year Later

Another principal in both the Mississippi and North Carolina projects, David Stickler, said he doesn't know where the jobs proposed by Clean Tech might land or when a decision might come. He called the incentive-packed Mississippi deal "a challenging project to get off of the ground in these less-than robust economic times."

The main condition for landing the Clean Tech jobs was that officials drop their opposition to Alcoa receiving a new federal license to operate its four hydroelectric dams along the Yadkin for up to another 50 years. Alcoa planned to take a 25 percent stake in Clean Tech had a deal been reached.

"Alcoa was prepared to make a substantial investment in the proposed Clean Tech project in Badin and obviously our financial commitment was a critical piece of the proposal. Unfortunately, that Clean Tech opportunity passed last year and we are now focused on moving forward and renewing our license," said Ray Barham, Alcoa's manager leading the Yadkin relicensing effort.

Alcoa has sold the electricity to commercial customers since its smelter closed about a decade ago. Company figures estimate that the dams could generate more than $2 billion in revenues over 50 years, a figure that could multiply if demand for clean power booms or the dams increase their output.

State and local officials have resisted Alcoa's relicensing under the belief that cheap energy from public control of the dams could result in thousands of jobs in coming decades, and that freedom to use the river's water was needed as supplies tighten for North Carolina's 9.5 million residents.

Correnti said he may again test the interest of North Carolina officials to make a deal.

Correnti may approach Gov.-elect Pat McCrory's administration after he takes office next month to again pitch the steel plant for the Alcoa site. McCrory, a Republican, will decide his own position on Alcoa's license after it was opposed by his Democrat predecessors, Beverly Perdue and Mike Easley.

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