The Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) has approved the town of Rockingham’s US$72M bid to buy the 49MW Bellows Falls hydroelectric plant.

A final public vote, required by Vermont law, will decide whether the Bellows Falls Power Company is allowed to run the dam.

The town, with its Canadian energy partners Brascan Corporation and Emera Incorporated, set up the Bellows Falls Company to operate the dam. The two companies are fronting the money and will receive profits from the sale of electricity.

In turn, Rockingham will lease the dam to the power company and get stabilised tax payments. In 74 years, the town will own the dam outright.

The three-member PSB decided that the purchase of the hydro facility will result in an economic benefit to the state of Vermont and its residents, and help to stabilise Rockingham’s future tax payments.

It was agreed by town residents in a meeting on Wednesday that the final vote will be decided by an ‘Australian’ ballot, where secret voting will take place throughout one day next month.

The Bellows Falls deal stretches back over eight years, and three votes have already taken place.

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