Bow Loses Supreme Court Appeal Over Value Of Former Eversource Plant

Jan 11, 2018

The contested coal-burning plant in Bow was just sold to a private partnership as part of Eversource's deregulation process.
Credit PSNH / Flickr Creative Commons

The state Supreme Court has ruled for Eversource in the company's fight with the town of Bow over the value of a local power plant.

The decision comes as the utility finishes selling off Merrimack Station as part of its deregulation process.

The plant and some related assets have made up a big part of Bow's tax rolls for decades.

In 2012 and 2013, the town valued the plant at $159 million dollars – based in part on an expensive mercury scrubber Eversource had just installed to meet state requirements.

Eversource said the plant was worth far less in those years – around $67 million, per a 2016 Superior Court ruling.

"We pay our taxes in full and on time but have a responsibility to our customers to challenge those assessments we believe are excessive," says Eversource spokesman Martin Murray.

On Thursday, the state's highest court upheld the Superior Court decision.

"We cannot say that the trial court erred by granting [Public Service Co. of New Hampshire, now known as Eversource] an abatement of taxes on its property in the town for tax years 2012 and 2013," the justices wrote in their opinion.

The decision takes a chunk out of Bow's tax base and means they could owe Eversource a tax refund of as much as $14 million dollars.

Bow Selectman Harry Judd, the town's spokesman, says they have some but not all of that money set aside and will meet with Eversource in the coming weeks to talk next steps.

In the long run, he says any tax hikes for residents would serve to correct the plant's past overvaluation. 

Merrimack Station's sale to a private partnership called Granite Shore Power closed this week, as Eversource's years-long process of divesting from its power-generating assets nears its end.

This story has been updated to include a comment from Eversource.