BARNET- Despite Vermont’s decision to pull their bid from a potential buyout of TransCanada dams in the NEK, the Town of Barnet still seems to be getting the best deal regardless.
The Connecticut River splits Vermont and New Hampshire basically at the seam, and the Comerford and McIndoes dam’s bridge the gap between states. Both dams touch Monroe, New Hampshire and Barnet, Vermont, so both towns receive taxes from TransCanada as compensation. Barnet was receiving around 20 million dollars in taxes from TransCanada, but decided that the property could be benefiting the town more, as maintenance of the two dams was increasing.
According to the town clerk, Benjamin Heisholt, the road to reaching a settlement with the two dams earlier this year was a long and arduous one. Since both dams are in the town limits, Barnet has been trying to receive compensation since 2012, and “It [was] a difference of opinion on the value of the properties”. While the selectboard in Barnet was excited about the deal, there was also some apprehension to this settlement, as TransCanada now owes 4 years in back taxes.
Despite this concern, board member Dylan Ford feels confident, and very relieved to have come to a settlement. Ford says “This is good news for Barnet, we got double the money and that means overall lower taxes.” The dams were negotiated for around 43 million in back taxes and repair funds, despite locals hesitations to invest any further in the dams. These dams provide power to the surrounding towns, similar to the Vail Hydrostation in Lyndon.
And the board and town clerk agree, this settlement couldn’t have come at a better time, because this October, Vermont officially removed itself from the bid on all TransCanada dams on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers after 6 months of deliberation. This means the town of Barnet will continue to allow the dams to utilize their land without truly owning them.
While Vermont seems to be backing away from anything dealing with TransCanada, including a potential partnership, Barnet is just fine with that according to Ford. “We’re just happy that we got what we wanted, and honestly, I think it’s in everyones best interest."
Unless Vermont decides on a different course of action with TransCanada, the town of Barnet seems to be content with the settlement, and will continue to take anyones comments or opinions on the matter.