State Rep. Craig Lipscomb (R-Gadsden) is standing with his constituents who are fighting against a proposed Alabama Power project that would force many of them from their homes and livelihoods.

Lipscomb represents District 30, which includes parts of St. Clair and Etowah Counties. It also covers the Chandler Mountain area, where Alabama Power has proposed installing a pump storage facility.

Alabama Power is in the years-long process of seeking licensing approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to create two lake reservoirs — one on top of Chandler Mountain covering 526 acres and one at its base — that would be hemmed in by a series of five dams. The pump station would have a 1,600-megawatt capacity, enough to power 400,000 homes annually. However, both reservoirs would place current residents' homes, many of which have been passed down through generations, underwater.

"If they [Alabama Power] create this project in the manner indicated, the environmental impact on the Coosa River and Chandler Mountain will be devastating," Lipscomb told 1819 News. "The economic impact and quality of life of people living in this area have already been and will continue to be devastated. Home values in the area are plummeting due to the consideration of this project. Clearly, they will not be well compensated for the true value of generationally owned residences and farms. When is anyone properly compensated in this regard? And frankly, these people do not want to relocate in the first place. It is their home."

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He continued, "This is a reckless and inappropriate project to even consider at this location, and I fully expect that when [Alabama Power] considers the impact on the quality of life of Alabamians, they will certainly determine that they, as a company who values quality of life, will never do such a harmful action."

In addition to the human cost and environmental impact, Lipscomb also questioned the economic feasibility of the project and whether better, more financially viable options existed.

"This proposed Chandler Mountain project by Alabama Power is a truly odd bird," he said. "It would seem that they want to spend money to get water uphill in an effort to make money by sending that same water back downhill. This does not make monetary sense to anyone, as the research indicates that there is no money to be made in that effort. So, why would they want to pull water from the Coosa River and pump it to the top of Chandler Mountain when there is no financial reason to do so? Perhaps it is checking off a green initiative box dictated by our current liberal president. I cannot say, as 'none of this makes sense,' considering that there are far too many other better and profitable ways for energy to be produced."

Alabama Power and FERC plan to hold more community meetings in the future to give more details on the project and for public comment. At a meeting in Rainbow City in July, Alabama Power said it would consider using eminent domain to acquire the properties it needed for the project as a last resort.

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