MADISON — Hydropower assets at the shuttered Madison Paper Industries have been sold to a New Jersey hydroelectric power producer, marking the final step in the sale of the paper mill and opening the door for future plans at the site.

Madison Paper Industries, a former partnership of UPM and Northern SC Paper Corp., a subsidiary of The New York Times Co., has signed an agreement on the sale of its hydropower facilities to Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, LLC, a hydroelectric power producer based in Morristown, New Jersey, the company said Tuesday in an emailed statement.

The paper mill, which closed in May and put about 215 people out of work, was sold in December to a buyer with plans to put the property back into use as an industrial site. Future uses of the mill site have been on hold pending the sale of the hydroelectric assets. The acquisition of the mill site — which closed for an undisclosed price — included the real estate of the main paper mill site as well as all mill equipment.

Tuesday’s announced transaction is still subject to third-party approvals. The parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price.

“Eagle Creek is a well-known and experienced operator of hydroelectric power facilities in North America,” Ruud van den Berg, senior vice president for magazines, merchants and office at UPM Paper in Helsinki, Finland, said in an emailed statement. “The company focuses on CO2-friendly power production and has a long-term, focused business strategy in this sector. As an integral part of an energy company, the hydropower facilities can be operated and developed in an optimal way.”

UPM in March also sold its hydro power facilities in Steyrermuehl, Austria, and in Schongau and Ettringen, Germany, according to emails from the company.

The mill property was sold to a “joint venture” of New Mill Capital Holdings, of New York; Perry Videx, of Hainesport, New Jersey; and Infinity Asset Solutions, of Toronto. Gregory Schain, principal of New Mill Capital Holdings, has visited Madison since the sale and has high hopes for future use at the site.

Contacted by phone Tuesday, Schain said the pending sale of the hydropower assets helps turn the page and open up a new era for central Maine.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “It finally closes one chapter and hopefully opens another for property in the area. Now that UPM is mostly out of the picture, hopefully the two parties — us and Eagle Creek — can work together to bring some economic life back to the site.”

Schain said there are businesses interested in the site, but would not say which companies have their eye on Madison. The town has courted Poland Spring about possibly occupying the site.

Schain said discussions with future buyers or tenants have been on hold, pending the sale of the hydro plants. Now, he said, those discussions can advance.

While the sale of the mill site did not include the hydro assets, Tuesday’s announcement is good news for New Mill Capital, the primary developer of the site, which has been waiting for such an announcement, said Madison Town Manager Tim Curtis.

“This is good news for the redevelopment of that property, because now the new owner of the mill site — Greg Schain, New Mill Capital — now he has someone that he can communicate with to try to figure out what energy costs will be like down there for whoever ends up owning and developing a business,” Curtis said by phone Tuesday. “It’s a step forward. It’s good news for the town. It’s a definite help to the new owners of the mill.”

Russ Drechsel, president and CEO of Madison Paper, was philosophical Tuesday about the approaching final curtain in the long history of the paper mill.

“It’s been over a year ago, 13 months ago, that we announced the closure of the paper machines,” Drechsel said. “So it’s another chapter and it’s near the end of the book. It will be good to finish everything up. You have to have that type of outlook when you’re closing a facility and trying to wrap up all the loose ends and to do it correctly and responsibly. That’s the driving force right now.”

Bud Cherry, CEO of Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, said in the emailed statement Tuesday that the company looks forward to doing business in Maine.

“Eagle Creek is very pleased to broaden our footprint in central Maine,” Cherry said. “The Madison Paper Industries hydroelectric portfolio represents an excellent opportunity to build out our operations in the region through the acquisition of a well-maintained, high quality set of hydro facilities.”

The mill produced supercalendered paper used for magazine publishing and has been in Madison since 1978. It was producing about 195,000 tons of paper annually at the time the closure was announced.

The town of Madison set the value of the entire property for taxation at $73 million — about $37 million for the hydropower assets and about $35 million for the paper-making plant. UPM is challenging the assessment of the property as of April 1, 2016, in a tax abatement request currently in the hands of the state Board of Property Tax Review.

Curtis said there are two hydroelectric dams and power plants at the former Madison Paper site. The dam at the upper mill is referred to as the Anson Dam and is assessed at about $20 million. Down the river at the lower mill is the Abnaki Dam, which is housed in Madison and valued at about $37 million, Curtis said. The Anson hydro facility generates 8 megawatts of power at peak and the Abnaki Dam, about 18 to 20 megawatts, he said.

The owner of the hydro facilities will own land on both sides of the river with provisions that include establishing recreational sites, such as the Madison boat landing north of the former mill. The water rights include land along the river about a mile upstream to Weston Island and about a mile downstream toward Norridgewock.

Because of existing licensing agreements, the owner of the hydro facilities also has to maintain trails and river access sites on both sides of the river, according to Curtis.

Tammy Murphy, administrator for the town of Anson, said she welcomed the sale of the hydro assets.

“It will be very good news for the town of Anson,” she said. “They are our biggest taxpayer in the town.”

According to its website, Eagle Creek’s projects provide clean energy to electricity consumers in North America while providing recreational opportunities and protecting historical resources and the environment. Eagle Creek was founded in 2010 to acquire, enhance, and operate small hydroelectric power facilities. Eagle Creek owns and operates 61 hydroelectric facilities representing 180 megawatts of capacity across the United States.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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