GRDA and Credit Ratings: Why They Matter

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

In recent years, the Grand River Dam Authority’s credit rating has steadily improved among the three major rating agencies — Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. 
It is a trend GRDA is working to continue.

GRDA Chief Technical Officer Tim Brown (right) and Hydro Department Superintendent Mike Rozell (in cap) tell Fitch Ratings representatives about the unique operations of GRDA’s Salina Pumped Storage Project. The Authority hosted rating agencies in September and October for full assets tours.

Earlier in the fall, rating agency representatives visited GRDA to get a better look at the utility’s current operations, meet employees and discuss the issues GRDA is facing. Because of its broad mission, many facilities and responsibilities extending across a large section of the state, the first-hand visits prove beneficial in gauging the scope of GRDA.
Since joining the Authority in December 2011, GRDA Chief Executive Officer Dan Sullivan has made communications with credit agencies a priority. Past GRDA management was able to guide the Authority to much-improved credit ratings and today’s leadership continues with that mission.
Why are better credit ratings so important to GRDA?
Better ratings translate into lower interest rates and costs when bonds are issued. Ultimately, that benefits GRDA ratepayers and the people of Oklahoma.
In recent years, those benefits have been evident. Over the last eight years, GRDA’s credit rating among all three rating agencies has improved significantly. Today, those ratings compare favorably to other regional electric utilities with wholesale customers. A credit rating upgrade saved millions of dollars in interest costs during GRDA’s 2008 and 2010 bond issues and that meant millions of dollars in savings for ratepayers across Oklahoma. 
GRDA’s goal is to see the same kind of savings in future bond issues.
Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable; electricity serves nearly 500,000 homes in Oklahoma and stretches into 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.
                                                                                                                                                                                              — Justin Alberty

GRDA Corporate Communications Director

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