Companies complete hydro dam sale

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WINDHAM COUNTY — A Boston company has completed its purchase of 13 hydroelectric stations on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers, administrators announced Thursday.

Great River Hydro LLC, a subsidiary of Boston-based ArcLight Capital Partners LLC, is the new owner of hydro dams that had been owned and operated by TransCanada Corp. since 2005.

The sale price was $1.065 billion.

TransCanada announced early in 2016 that it was seeking a buyer for hydro facilities including the Moore, Comerford, McIndoe, Wilder, Bellows Falls and Vernon stations on the Connecticut River and the Harriman and Searsburg stations on the Deerfield River.

Vermont officials entertained, but eventually dismissed, the notion of acquiring an ownership interest in the dams.

In November, TransCanada announced its sale agreement with ArcLight. The purchase won approval in January from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and earlier this month the Vermont Public Service Board also signed off.

In ruling that the sale would promote the public good, state officials said Great River will seek to retain existing hydro station employees and will adhere to tax obligations in 26 Vermont municipalities. TransCanada paid about $8.2 million in property taxes in 2016.

The state also noted that ArcLight has experience in the power industry.

In announcing completion of the purchase Thursday, ArcLight billed itself as "one of the leading renewable energy investors in the United States." The dams now operated by Great River have a total generating capacity of 584 megawatts, which ArcLight says is "the largest conventional hydro system in New England."

ArcLight also owns and operates 10 hydroelectric facilities in Maine.

TransCanada said it will use proceeds from the sale to repay debt from its 2016 acquisition of Houston-based Columbia Pipeline Group. That transaction, the company said, "created one of North America's largest regulated natural gas transmission companies."

Mike Faher reports for the Reformer, VTDigger, and The Commons. He can be contacted at mfaher@vtdigger.org.

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