$175 million sale of power plants, including Merrimack Station, completed

  • Merrimack Station in Bow is seen at dusk in October. The plant is now owned by Granite Shore Power. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 1/10/2018 9:37:37 PM

For the first time since it was built 58 years ago, Merrimack Station in Bow is no longer producing electricity for Eversource or its predecessor, PSNH: As of Wednesday, it is now formally owned by Connecticut-based Granite Shore Power.

Granite Shore Power LLC, a partnership between Atlas Holdings of Greenwich, Conn., and Castleton Commodities International of Stamford, Conn., paid $175 million for all of Eversource’s fossil fuel-powered generation facilities including coal-fired Merrimack Station and Schiller Station in Portsmouth, as well as gas-fired Newington Station in Newington and a pair of turbines powered by jet fuel in Groveton and Tamworth used only when supplies are strained, as they have been during the recent cold snap.

Under the sale agreement approved by the Public Utilities Commission, all the plants will continue operation for at least 18 months.

Eversource’s nine electricity-producing dams, including Eastman Falls in Franklin and Garvins Falls in Bow, are being sold for $83 million to Hull Street Energy, a private equity firm in Bethesda, Md., that focuses on the electric industry.

The sale of these plants ends the long-running regulation of Eversource, separating the business of transmitting electricity from the business of creating it.

“Today marks a milestone in the deregulation of the electric utility industry in the Granite State. We will soon close on the related sale of our hydroelectric facilities and join other New England utilities by obtaining the energy we need to serve our customers from the competitive regional energy market,” said Eversource NH President Bill Quinlan in a prepared statement.

The sale was made in an auction established by the PUC and managed by the firm JPMorgan.

Under the agreements, the new owners must honor an employee benefits package established by Eversource and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Eversource will provide three years of tax stabilization payments to communities where a power plant may be sold for less than its assessed value.

Under the settlement, Eversource agreed to forgo recovery of $25 million related to the cost of building the $457 million Merrimack Station scrubber, which removes pollutants from the plant’s smokestack. It will finance the rest of the unpaid “stranded costs” securitization bonds.

Eversource has also agreed to provide $5 million to establish a Clean Energy Fund that will be overseen by the PUC and the Office of Strategic Initiatives.

The town of Bow and Eversource are fighitng in court over the taxation value of Merrimack Station. It was sold for $75 million. Bow valued it at $159 million in 2012 and 2013, when Eversource said it was worth slightly less than $68 million, a figure that a Superior Court judge supported this year. The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in October, on the same day that this sale of power plants was announced, but has yet to rule.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com.)

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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