RALEIGH, N.C. — The new owners of North Carolina dams that were the prize in a long-running fight with the state asked on Thursday that Duke Energy Corp. be forced to buy the hydropower generated.
Cube Yadkin Generation asked the North Carolina Utilities Commission to declare that Duke Energy must buy electricity from the Yadkin River dams for 10 years. Duke Energy is required to buy its electricity under a 40-year-old federal clean-energy law, the division of Maryland-based Cube Hydro Partners said.
The hydropower company said the state Utilities Commission should order Duke Energy to pay what it would spend to generate the power itself.
In a letter to Cube Hydro before it completed its purchase of the four dams last year, a Duke Energy executive said that the law doesn’t obligate it to buy the electricity.
Both Cube Hydro and Duke Energy declined comment through spokesmen Thursday.
The U.S. Supreme Court last month ended North Carolina’s lawsuit over the dams started after previous owner Alcoa Corp. closed an aluminum plant that once employed 1,000 workers and started selling the electricity to commercial customers. Alcoa reported receiving $249 million in the dam sale.
North Carolina officials continue challenging the 2016 decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a new license allowing the dams to operate until 2055. State officials have proposed taking over the dams as public property to stimulate local jobs and ensure control over the river’s drinking water as the state’s population rises
“In this case, the State of North Carolina seeks to ensure that the waters of its second-largest river system are used for the benefit of its people,” Attorney General Josh Stein’s office said in a court filing last month. With the jobs gone, the state has long argued “that public ownership of the Yadkin Project would serve the public interest better than allowing Alcoa to use the flows of the Yadkin River to generate profits for itself.
The dams have generated more than $225 million in revenues in the decade after the electricity began being sold to commercial customers.