The news will also see the preservation of over 4000ha of land; a crucial part of Alcoa’s agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Alcoa Power Generating Inc (APGI) is now able to continue operating its Chilhowee, Calderwood, Cheoah and Santeetlah hydroelectric plants in Tennessee and North Carolina, which provide electricity to the company’s aluminium producing facilities in Blount County.

The legislation details a number of actions for environmental protection including a land exchange between APGI and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; an easement of land to The Nature Conservancy; a conservation fund of US$100,000 per year for natural resource stewardship; increased flows into the Cheoah river and improvement of recreational facilities.

Alcoa met with various agencies and environmental organisations in April this year to sign the agreement, which marked the culmination of seven years of discussions between relevant groups.

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