Power plant tax agreement unanimously passes

Power plant tax agreement unanimously passes

BLACKSTONE – Town residents approved a new 10-year tax treaty for the Elm Street power plant on Tuesday, voting 60-0 in favor of the agreement during a special town meeting at the Blackstone-Millville Regional High School auditorium.

The new pact calls for ANP Blackstone Energy Company to pay the town $2.7 million per year, a $600,000 increase over the previous agreement of $2.1 million. The former agreement was set to expire in 2020, prompting a renegotiation process in April. Town Administrator Daniel Keyes, Town Attorney Patrick Costello, Board of Selectman Chairman Daniel Keefe and Selectman Robert Dubois served on the town’s negotiating committee.

The vote was taken with virtually no discussion, with no residents raising opposition during Tuesday’s meeting. Dubois, who served on the committee that negotiated the original agreement in the late 1990s, noted the difference from the previous process. At the time, he said, discussion of the original agreement by town residents stretched on for several hours.

Per the terms of the agreement, 90 percent of the funds will be dedicated to capital improvements and another 10 percent to the town’s general fund. Dubois told The Breeze the funds will be essential for the town’s upcoming infrastructure projects, particularly a new water treatment system mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

“It’ll help out tremendously for the capital projects that we have in store and pay for the ones we have now. Because otherwise, a year and a half from now, we would’ve been out of luck,” he said.

“The water treatment plant’s number one, but potentially there could be other things coming down the line,” he added.

Board of Selectman Chairman Daniel Keefe also expressed surprise with the ease with which the measure passed, attributing it to the improvements over the previous agreement.

“We were expecting some criticism potentially, but it’s tough to criticize a new deal that’s approximately 20 percent higher than the old deal,” he said.

The prior agreement was signed in April 1999 and renegotiated in 2005. According to officials, the new agreement will have the option to renew after 10 years.

The gas power plant, located at 204 Elm Street, was originally opened as American National Power in 2001. The plant later changed hands to Dynegy Inc. and is now owned by Luminant, a subsidiary of Texas-based Vistra Energy. The company also owns a plant on Maple Street in Bellingham, Mass., under the name ANP Bellingham Energy Company.

Selectwoman Margo Bik said the plant has been a good neighbor to the town over the years, requiring minimal town services and providing few disturbances.

The town still needs to negotiate personal property taxes and new water and sewer rates with the plant’s owners. As the town’s largest user of water, the power plant pays higher rates, according to officials.