GRE & Xcel hustling for $$$$$

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Apparently Great River Energy and Xcel Energy are outlooking for money.  Gee, I wonder why?  I remember the snorts and hoots that broke out in the room way back during the CapX Certificate of Need hearing when they admitted to presenting their CapX 2020 financing dog & pony show to Lehman Brothers.

As for GRE, from Monday’s article in Finance & Commerce:

For example, GRE’s 2009 revenues fell $42.1 million to $787.8 million at the same time the utility was paying to develop a coal-fired plant in North Dakota and helping develop the CapX2020 system of transmission lines with 10 other state utilities.

Xcel just made an SEC filing that shows some creative efforts:

The primary purpose of the Plan is to provide our common and preferred shareholders as well as new investors with a convenient and economical method of purchasing our common stock.  Once enrolled in the Plan, you may reinvest cash dividends and, through optional cash payments, purchase additional shares of common stock from time to time or at regular intervals.  Although we expect the Plan to appeal to many shareholders, it is entirely optional.  A secondary purpose of the Plan is to enable us to raise additional capital by selling newly issued shares of our common stock under the Plan.

“Secondary purpose of the Plan…”  (click the quote for the full filing)  “Secondary purpose…”

Yup, uh-huh…   …WHAT… EVER!

Here’s the full article from Finance & Commerce about GRE’s capital raising efforts:

Great River Energy to sell $450M in mortgage bonds

Posted: 4:35 pm Mon, October 18, 2010

By Bob Geiger

Faced with declining power-usage revenues and rising utility-plant costs, Maple Grove-based Great River Energy (GRE) on Monday issued $450 million in taxable first mortgage bonds to meet costs and pay down debt.

The mortgage bonds are intended to fund capital spending for the utility’s power generation and transmission as well as paying off $325 million of GRE’s $2.4 billion outstanding debt, said Susan Brooks, GRE treasury director.

“It’s part of our long-range plan to meet member costs in the most cost-effective manner,” said Brooks, who expects bond pricing to be set today.

The mortgage bond sale is the second such transaction in 2010 by GRE, which in April announced it would sell $106 million in tax-exempt first mortgage bonds issued by McLean County, N.D.

It’s not unusual for utilities to sell mortgage bonds to help make ends meet at a low cost. Such financing makes sense because GRE is making additions to its system and paying for generation and transmission improvements in the wake of the recession.

For example, GRE’s 2009 revenues fell $42.1 million to $787.8 million at the same time the utility was paying to develop a coal-fired plant in North Dakota and helping develop the CapX2020 system of transmission lines with 10 other state utilities.

Fitch Ratings assigned an A- credit rating to the $450 million mortgage bond sale. Fitch noted that, “while GRE’s debt level remains a concern, (it) has been effective in managing the higher debt loads, even in what has been a difficult operating environment.”

Background information on GRE’s mortgage bond offering from Fitch stated that GRE is working to lessen its debt-load by paring its five-year capital spending plan by $350 million.

GRE serves more than 645,000 residential and small-commercial customers through 28 member cooperatives. The utility maintains 3,647 megawatts of generation capacity, of which 2,751 megawatts is owned by GRE.

Additional capacity is expected to come online in 2012 when Spiritwood Station, a coal-fired plant near Jamestown, N.D., begins operation.

The start-up of Spiritwood, which has a peaking capacity of 99 megawatts, was delayed until early 2012 earlier this year because plans for an ethanol plant to use steam from the nearby coal plant failed to materialize.

Therese LaCanne, GRE spokeswoman, said Spiritwood also will provide steam for a Cargill Malt plant in the industrial park.

Of GRE’s 2009 power generation, 78 percent was coal-fired, with the remaining 22 percent coming from 7 percent renewable energy, 1 percent natural gas and 14 percent other energy sources.

Combined with the planned firing up of Spiritwood and wind energy contracts, GRE projects it will have adequate capacity to meet its member needs beyond 2020.

The utility projects compounded average annual peak load growth of 1.4 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to Brooks.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace