(Host) The town of Rockingham voted Tuesday to buy the Bellows Falls Hydroelectric plant for $72 million dollars. By just over the needed 60 percent margin, voters said ‘yes’ to a partnership with two Canadian Energy companies.
The companies, Brascan and Emera will put up the money and produce power from the Bellows Falls dam for the next 74 years. After that the town of Rockingham will own it free and clear. The arrangement also locks in a substantial payment to the town in lieu of taxes each year.
Rockingham Selectman Ed Soboleski called it a major victory.
(Soboleski) “In my lifetime this is the biggest vote we’ve ever had and it’s for the benefit of the community, and hopefully down the road they will get the benefits. Our children and our grandchildren will continue to get major benefits from this program.”
(Host) The town voted in 2002 to form a municipal utility and investigate buying the dam, which accounts for about a third of its tax base.
But prospects looked bleak after a prospective partner pulled out shortly before the December first deadline on the town’s purchase option. Rockingham Town Manager Shane O’Keefe says the town is close to an agreement with Green Mountain Power on distributing the electricity.
(O’Keefe) “There’s a lot of work to be done and what the actual game plan is at this point we’ll be figuring out over the coming weeks. But we do need to exercise the option by December 1 and we plan on doing that.”
(Host) The town has until August to close the deal with U.S.-Gen New England, the dam’s bankrupt owner. The $72 million will be held in escrow until the closing.