Maintaining a future focus

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

The Grand River Dam Authority received some good news last week when Moody’s Investor Services assigned an “A1” rating and stable outlook to its latest bond issue. Set for pricing on August 8 and 9, it is a $91.3 million issue and GRDA plans to use the proceeds to refund a previous bond issue.

Staying focused… In this photo, GRDA CEO Dan Sullivan speaks to customers about the Authority’s future generation plans during a past customer meeting. Maintaining strong customer relationships, a beneficial electric generation portfolio and good operating performance are some of the reasons GRDA has been able to continue an upward trend of credit rating improvements in recent years.

The fact is GRDA bonds continue to be very popular, especially among Oklahoma investors. There was a time in the last five years when GRDA bonds were held by residents in 76 of 77 Oklahoma counties. Of course, the popularity of those bonds, which have helped the Authority finance a diverse electric generation portfolio over the years, is boosted by the Authority’s strong credit ratings.

Since 2005, those ratings have been on a steady incline and are now the highest in the agency’s history. That is especially important because better credit ratings mean better interest rates, lower insurance costs and bigger savings for GRDA’s ratepayers. All that can equate to more competitive rates and greater efficiencies. These goals remain at the center of GRDA’s daily mission and operations.

Of course, strong customer relationships, the diverse power supply, improving cash flow, significantly reduced debt service requirements, prudent risk management policies, good operating performance and ample system capacity to meet energy demands were among other positive GRDA factors cited by the rating agencies in recent years. Rates, consistently ranking among the lowest in Oklahoma, are also on that list.

Still, the work is far from finished. The areas that GRDA has focused on in recent years, to improve those credit ratings, are also the areas the Authority’s “5E’s of Excellence” mission is focused on going forward. The addition of the new Unit 3 gas plant, upgraded workforce training initiatives, improving safety culture, expanded programs focusing on the watershed and ecosystems, and continued commitment to maintain reliable service and beneficial customer relationships are all ways GRDA is positioning itself to be “an Oklahoma agency of excellence” with a solid financial footing.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.