Community Advisory Panel Hears from Alcoa and LCRA
Plans made by the Community Advisory Panel to Alcoa (Rockdale Operations)— CAPARO—to tour Alcoa’s reclamation of the former Sandow Mine were postponed when Alcoa informed members of plans to sell the 34,000 acre site to the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). Alcoa’s Energy Manager, Tommy Hodges, described sale plans at CAPARO’s September meeting. Kyle Jensen, LCRA’s Executive Manager for External Affairs, introduced members to the agency and its reasons for buying the site. Both responded as able to questions, but the sale is not yet final and will not be until closing. Due diligence has just begun and will continue 6-12 months. Community questions and concerns will be tracked by CAPARO for response when answers become available.
Hodges brought a large map to let the 80-85 attendees see the property in question. He said the sale includes all of Alcoa’s real property, which is primarily in Milam and Lee Counties with smaller portions in Bastrop and Williamson Counties. The sale would include Alcoa’s surface water rights and groundwater rights under the property. The power contracts with Luminant, which include Alcoa’s interest in Three Oaks Mine, would become LCRA’s, as would common industrial facilities such as the Alcoa Lake Treatment System, roads, and pipeline from Little River.
If the agreement closes, Alcoa will continue to own and operate the atomizer but as a tenant to LCRA, and Alcoa will retain ownership of the smelter, which will remain temporarily curtailed. Alcoa will complete Sandow Mine reclamation. Alcoa employees will continue to work for Alcoa.
Jensen said LCRA is a state agency without taxing authority; all revenue is generated through rates/fees. LCRA generates and delivers electricity and provides water and other services to communities in Central Texas and along the lower Colorado River. An arrangement with the Brazos River Authority allows LCRA to satisfy one of its water service obligations in Williamson County.
After the 2011 drought, the LCRA board committed to developing 100,000 acre feet a year (afy) of new water over the next 5 years to assure adequate water supply. Jensen said they are interested in the Alcoa property for its surface and ground water, which together could fulfill 45,000 afy of that goal. The due diligence process will help LCRA determine how they might use the water and the land, whether it would create jobs, the impact on local tax base, the funding mechanism, and other matters.
Asked about the future of CAPARO, Hodges said Alcoa will want an advisory panel as long as they are operating here. Jensen said LCRA has leadership councils in its other areas, so some kind of community input is anticipated if the property is purchased.
CAPARO will meet again on Mon., Nov. 12, 2012 for an update from Alcoa and the annual report on emissions. The 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. meeting will be at the Alcoa Lake Training Center in Rockdale. Reservation details will be published closer to the meeting date. For more information, contact CAPARO facilitator at 800/484-9212 code 4127.
Lexington area residents are also welcome to contact CAP member Margaret Newman at 979- 773-4184.