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The largest conventional hydro station in New England, the Moore Dam, will be the subject of valuation negotiations later this year between the Littleton and Boston-based ArcLight Capital. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

Town of Littleton looks to negotiate value of Moore Dam with new owner


LITTLETON — As the town gets ready to pay off a multi-million dollar bond to settle a lawsuit with the owner of the Moore Dam hydro station, it’s also preparing to negotiate the station’s value.

The largest conventional hydro station in New England, the Moore Dam makes up more than a quarter of Littleton’s total assessed valuation, meaning that dam owner TransCanada Hydro Northeast is among the largest taxpayers in Littleton.

“Something that’s worth 25 percent, if it wiggles in either direction just a little, has a direct measurable impact on the tax rate because it’s such a large component and a little wiggle can create a wave,” said Littleton Selectman Milton Bratz, on Wednesday.

Last year, Littleton’s tax rate rose $1.59 per $1,000 of assessed valuation due to what Bratz said was an overall decrease in the value of residential properties as well as a decrease in the value of the Moore Dam that was previously negotiated by the town and TransCanada.

In 2010, after years of legal wrangling over the town’s 2006 assessment, the parties agreed to set the value of the dam at $177 million; the town thought it was worth $239 million while TransCanada put the figure at $135 million.

As part of the settlement, the town said it would pay TransCanada $6.3 million.

gets ready to make the last payment to TransCanada, the 2010 settlement is also nearing an end, which means the value of the dam is again up in the air.

As part of the settlement, the town said it would pay TransCanada $6.3 million.

As Littleton gets ready to make the last payment to TransCanada, the 2010 settlement is also nearing an end, which means the value of the dam is again up in the air.

Littleton will now be negotiating the dam’s value with ArcLight Capital, the Boston-based company that last November announced it was purchasing a total of 13 of TransCanada’s facilities, both on the Deerfield River in Vermont and on the Connecticut River in New Hampshire, including the Moore Dam and the Comerford and McIndoe Falls dams, which are in Monroe.

ArcLight said in a prepared statement that it has committed to retaining “all existing operational personnel” and plans to assume a recently negotiated union contract and will continue with federal relicensing of facilities at Bellow Falls and Vernon, Vt.

ArcLight, however, did not comment on the future of host-community agreements.

Going into negotiations with ArcLight sometime this fall, Littleton will point out that the Moore Dam is worth approximately $219 million, said Bratz.

The value that is ultimately reached, “all depends on the negotiations and how keen they (ArcLight) are in going to court,” said Bratz, who pointed out that utilities across New Hampshire regularly contest their assessments.

As important as it is to Littleton and despite its being the largest of the hydro facilities being purchased by ArcLight, the Moore Dam is just a single piece in the company’s larger portfolio, Bratz stressed.

“It’s a backup dam; it’s not a frontline dam. It’s just used when the grid is calling for additional energy. It’s not online all the time, and that has some impact. Whether it’s good or bad, I don’t know,” said Bratz.

What is clear, Bratz said, is that the Moore Dam casts “a long shadow” in Littleton.


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