CHICAGO — The Nebraska Public Power District will enter the market Monday with $270 million of bonds as part of its annual borrowing to finance capital projects.
The single-A rated district will hold a retail order period today with plans to open the issue up to institutional buyers Tuesday.
The NPPD usually sells about 20% of its bonds to retail investors, said district chief financial officer and treasurer Traci Bender.
“We’re always hopeful to do better than that,” Bender said. “We are a public power utility and we are owned by our customers. We like to see a good retail turnout.”
The district is a major player in Nebraska’s economy, and serves customers in nearly all of its 93 counties. It has about $1.8 billion of outstanding long-term debt.
Ramirez & Co. is the senior manager on the team, which includes 12 additional underwriting firms. The district tapped Ramirez for the first time to lead the sale in order to stay with its longtime banker Ted Sobel, who moved to Ramirez from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Fulbright & Jaworski LLP is bond counsel. Castleton Partners LLC is financial adviser.
The transaction includes $115 million of Build America Bonds with a mix of serial and term bonds with a final maturity of 2043. Most of the proceeds will be used to finance 53 miles of a 218-mile transmission line running to the Kansas border.
Series B consists of $8.5 million of taxable debt that matures through 2020. Proceeds from that tranche will be used to finance facilities to serve the new pipeline owned by TransCanada that runs through the state. TransCanada will reimburse the district for the borrowing, Bender said.
Another $150 million will be sold as traditional tax-exempt debt that includes $100 million to refund commercial paper and $50 million for various new projects.
Standard & Poor’s affirmed its A rating ahead of the sale, and Moody’s Investors Service affirmed its A1 rating. Fitch Ratings had not released its rating as of Friday afternoon.
Analysts warned that the district faces some operating challenges tied to its nuclear and coal plants.
“These include sustaining recently improved nuclear performance and developing emissions remediation strategies that balance investments in existing generation capacity against the large coal fleet’s age, which could prove costly,” said Standard & Poor’s analyst David Bodek in a release on the borrowing.
NPPD’s grid is supported by 24% nuclear power, which analysts said is high for a power utility, while coal represents about 62%. The remainder comes from gas, oil, wind, and hydro power. The district purchased 11% of its power in 2008.