A New York City-based investment firm has completed its purchase of the electrical plant at the former Verso Paper mill site in Bucksport.
Stonepeak Kestrel Holdings III bought the 161-megawatt natural gas- and oil-fired generator from AIM Development USA last week. The company had applied for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval of its plans last month and received it on Friday, according to a filing with the federal agency.
The completion of the sale marks the latest property flip performed by site owner American Iron and Metal since the Canadian scrap-metal recycler purchased the Verso site for $58 million in 2015. A $180 million Atlantic salmon farm and a Maine Maritime Academy adult-education annex are in the works at the site. Both developments are part of a reinvention of sorts in a town that suffered the loss of 570 jobs with the paper mill’s closure in 2014.
Stonepeak Kestrel Holdings III is a subsidiary of Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, a private equity firm headquartered in Manhattan that specializes in investing in and managing properties such as the power plant.
John D. Prunkl, the CEO of the company that will manage the power plant for Stonepeak Kestrel, Ironclad Energy Partners LLC, said he expects the plant to continue primarily as American Iron and Metal configured it — as a supplemental source of electricity for the New England power grid during outages, times of heavy electricity demand or technical problems.
“Because we think that AIM did a nice job of reconfiguring the plant for its current duties, and because of the limitations in the grid itself south of Bangor, we can’t expand the plant,” Prunkl said Monday.
The plant employs 10 workers, Prunkl said, and Ironclad doesn’t plan personnel changes.
American Iron and Metal upgraded the power plant and signed a 10-year contract with ISO-New England, the operator of the region’s electric grid, during its tenure owning the operation, Lessard said.
It is possible, but not very likely, that the Ironclad plant could sell power to salmon farm owner Whole Oceans, whose electrical needs are likely to be substantial, Prunkl said.
A representative of Whole Oceans didn’t respond to a question Monday about whether the company would pursue purchasing power directly from the on-site plant.
In the meantime, the plant will run only when ISO-New England needs a hand, Prunkl said.
“We are standing at the ready when it gets really cold or really hot,” he said. “We will probably run less than 10 times a year.”