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Agreement signed for purchase of four dams, small hydropower assets in Michigan

Boyce Trusts and Four Lakes Task Force (FLTF) have signed a $9.4 million purchase agreement for the acquisition of the Wixom, Sanford, Secord and Smallwood Dams and lake bottoms in Michigan, with a separate agreement signed for the hydroelectric powerhouses at these dams.

The task force says in a press release that the purchase agreement is a major milestone in maintaining the legal level of all four lakes in accordance with the Circuit Court order and Part 307 of the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

The sale of properties will occur over the next two years, with a final close in January 2022.

“This is an important step forward in bringing control of the lake levels and dams to the communities,” said Dave Kepler, chairman of FLTF. “We are grateful for the assistance and support from state and county leaders, township officials and lake residents. There is still a great amount of work to do before the closing in early 2022, including the implementation of the Special Assessment District (SAD) and conducting dam maintenance and repairs, but we are confident about this strong path forward.”

Circuit Court Judge Stephen Carras legally established the SAD on May 28, 2019, for the purpose of financing the acquisition, repairs and Part 307 order requirements. Major repairs and improvements will occur on all four dams over the next three years, with an engineering estimate to be completed by the end of 2020. The current estimate is that a lakefront property owner will pay an annual assessment of $350 and a backlot property owner will pay $88. After a public SAD hearing, FLTF will calculate and finalize the assessment by early 2021.

In addition, Four Lakes Operations (FLO) will acquire the power assets from Boyce for $6.6 million, to produce hydroelectric energy. This amount is in addition to the purchase of the dams and lake bottoms and is expected to be financed by revenue from power generation.

FLO is a corporation formed to find a new private power generation operator and to manage the renewal of the power generation licenses awarded by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Consumer’s Energy Power Agreement. This investment in the power generation assets is intended to keep the long-term cost of dam ownership for the community as low as possible.

As previously reported, generating capacity of these sites on the Tittabawassee River are: 4.8 MW at Edenville (Wixom Lake), 3.3 MW at Sanford, 1.2 MW at Secord and 1.2 MW at Smallwood

In January 2020, FLTF will turn over operations oversight of the four dams to FLO. However, Boyce will continue to operate the dams through January 2022 as financing of the project is completed.