BRATTLEBORO -- Rockingham officials sat down in a preliminary hearing with TransCanada on Thursday to discuss a grievance the corporation has.
According to Lister Camilla Roberts, TransCanada disagreed with some of the components that went into an evaluation a state-hired appraiser gave of the company’s hydroelectric generation facility in Bellows Falls.
Vermont’s appraiser reported the facility, at 20 Mill St., has a value of just more than $108 million. But TransCanada, which owns the facility, believes the figure is actually lower and made a claim stating as much. The lower the facility’s appraisal, the less the corporation will have to pay in taxes.
Roberts said Thursday’s meeting was the first step in a long process.
She attended the meeting alongside the other two listers, David Gould and Paul Noble, as well as Finance Director Chip Stearns and Bellows Falls Village Trustee Andrew Smith.
Stearns said a TransCanada representative spoke about the factors that went into the appraisal and why the company disagrees with it. Stearns said the meeting was very civil.
"You have to understand the perspective that they’re bringing in," he said in a telephone interview.
He said the listers have 10 days, as of today, to render a decision on TransCanada’s grievance. Stearns said the listers have three options -- they can decline the grievance, agree and alter, or agree and match. Once
She said an evaluation is done roughly every 10 years.
According to an e-mail from Shawn Howard, TransCanada’s senior external communications specialist, his company disagrees with the latest assessment because of significant changes in power markets that have reduced the facility’s value.
"We are waiting for this matter to be resolved and look forward to working with the town to amicably determine the current and appropriate value for the Bellows Falls station," he said in a response to inquiries from the Reformer.
Howard said there is an established process in place to determine the current market value.
"Like someone’s home or personal property, that information is confidential," he said in the e-mail.
At a Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, June 12, Municipal Manager Timothy Cullenen said TransCanada is asking for a substantial decrease in the evaluation of that facility.
"Depending on how this works out, it could have a substantial impact on everybody’s budget," he told the trustees.
TransCanada Corporation is a North American energy company based in Calgary, Alberta, that focuses on natural gas transmission and power services. It puts a strong emphasis on pipelines and power generation opportunities.
This is the second time the corporation has appealed an appraisal by the state.
The Bellows Falls facility was one TransCanada acquired from USGen New England, Inc. in 2005. According to TransCanada’s website, an existing agreement between Rockingham and USGen New England provided the town with the option to purchase the facility for $72 million.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.