By Associated Press - Thursday, October 27, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The state of Vermont should not try to buy a series of 13 hydroelectric dams on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers, but should look for ways to work with the eventual owner to buy electricity, a study has said.

TransCanada bought the 13 hydroelectric dams from USGen New England in 2005. It now wants to sell the dams to help finance the purchase of a pipeline.

The state considered buying the dams more than a decade ago. That interest was rekindled in March when TransCanada said it was trying to sell power generation facilities in the United States. But state officials have since said the purchase price, estimated at $800 million to $1.2 billion would be too steep.

In a report issued Tuesday, the HydroPower Acquisition Working Group, which was tasked with studying the possible purchase, said the cost of the dams and costs associated with preparing a bid made the purchase unfeasible.

The report said the state Department of Public Service should instead approach the eventual owner to determine if there was interest in a long-term power purchase agreement.

Any agreement “would need to clearly provide a benefit to Vermont ratepayers and would need to be pursued in consultation with the state’s electric distribution utilities to ensure that such a commitment matches the power supply needs of the utilities,” the report said.

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