Issues and Interests

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PUD News

Low rates, paying down debt and top-notch operations earn Chelan PUD strong financial rating

by Kimberlee Craig | Jun 18, 2019
S&P Global confirms AA+ stable rating

It was good news on the financial front for Chelan County PUD commissioners on Monday as they heard that S&P Global continues to rate the District among the top customer-owned utilities in the nation.

Lead Treasury Analyst Heather Irelan said the financial rating firm called out several “extremely strong” financial positions including a debt ratio of 34 percent and electric rates that are among the lowest in the nation. (At 01:27 on the board meeting audio recording.)

Treasurer Debbie Litchfield thanked customer-owners, commissioners and PUD staff for supporting strategic priorities that resulted in the continued high bond ratings. The PUD has cut its debt in half since 2010.

“The District has been working hard to achieve this level that puts us among the most highly-rated public utilities by S&P and Fitch,” Litchfield said.

High bond ratings ultimately keep rates lower for customer-owners. They also could bring lower interest rates if the PUD moves ahead on borrowing money to invest in its valuable hydropower and grid assets in the next few years, she added.

“Fantastic, that’s great news,” said Commissioner Ann Congdon.

Board President Garry Arseneault said the review and rating by a third party gives customer-owners added confidence in the strength of PUD finances.

“Thank you sincerely to all of the team that it takes to make this happen. It’s a huge deal,” Arseneault said.

Chelan PUD also has high bond ratings of AA+ stable from Fitch Ratings and Aa3 stable from Moody’s Investor Service

In other business, commissioners:

  • Reviewed Distribution System priorities to consider how best to balance increasing risks and workload. John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director, outlined issues including the need to upgrade aging equipment, meet new construction standards, serve load growth and protect employee and public safety that need to be addressed in the next round of five-year business planning. (00:55)
  • Heard that about 2,100 customer-owners have taken the strategic planning survey so far. Justin Erickson, District Services managing director, said a big push is on this week to encourage more customers to respond online and by mail. The survey ends Friday. Staff plans to report on results at the Aug. 3 board meeting, Erickson said.  (01:43)
  • Thanked Treasury employees Maria Kieninger and Sarah Hale for taking personal ownership and protecting customer-owner and the PUD interests. They discovered attempted fraudulent transactions in one of the District’s bank accounts and their vigilance prevented any loss and at the same time increased security – in just three hours. (00:26)
  • Set 5:30 p.m. on July 15 for a dinner meeting with Douglas and Grant PUD commissioners and managers at Mai Lee Thai, 595 Grant Rd., East Wenatchee.  

Upcoming events:

  • June 24-28 – Hydropower STEM Career Academy, Rocky Reach Dam
  • July 1 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., PUD boardroom
  • July 4 – PUD offices closed for Fourth of July holiday
  • July 4 – Wenatchee Valley 4th of July, Walla Walla Point Park
  • July 15 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. PUD boardroom
  • July 15 – Mid-C Commissioners & Managers meeting, 5:30 p.m., 595 Grant Rd.

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The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 1, in the boardroom at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.

Chelan PUD records most commission meetings, and a link to the audio is available on the PUD’s home page at www.chelanpud.org. Find us at Facebook.com/ChelanPUD and follow us on Twitter @ChelanPUD. 

Here for you, providing the best for the most for the longest – chelanpud.org