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Global Credit Research - 29 Jun 2010
Approximately $1.0 billion of securities affected
New York, June 29, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service affirmed the long-term and short-term
ratings of Portland General Electric Company (PGE; senior unsecured
Baa2 and short-term rating for commercial paper Prime-2)
and changed the company's rating outlook to stable from positive.
"The outlook change reflects PGE's weaker than anticipated credit
metrics over the past 15 months as significantly reduced volumes due to
a combination of unfavorable weather conditions, conservation,
and reduced consumption by customers due to the economy resulted in weaker
earnings and cash flow" said Moody's Vice President --
Senior Analyst, Kevin Rose. "Although PGE issued common
equity in early 2009, the company's aggregate debt has also
increased consistent with additional debt issued as part of the external
funding for PGE's large capital program" Rose added.
PGE's CFO Pre W/C to interest and debt coverage ratios for FY-2009
were 3.4x and 15.4%, respectively, compared
to 4.3-4.5x and approximately 21% levels in
2007-2008 time frame. For the 12-months ended March
31, 2010, these ratios remained at the lower levels,
and stood at 3.4x and 15.1%. We anticipate
that PGE will pursue strategies to restore its CFO Pre W/C to interest
and debt coverage ratios, on average, to stronger levels near
4x and in the high teens range, respectively, over the next
few years to sustain its credit profile and maintain its current ratings.
Achieving this objective hinges importantly on receiving a supportive
outcome in the company's February 2010 rate case filing scheduled
for December 2010 and decisions in expected future rate cases.
Achieving success in these cases to bolster earned returns on investments
may become more challenging than historically due to the currently depressed,
albeit gradually improving economy in PGE's service territory.
Meanwhile, PGE's ratings continue to take into account management's
collaborative working relationship with the Oregon Public Utility Commission
during a period of frequent rate case activity; a moderating capital
program that will still require continued support from the regulators
as PGE potentially looks to spend significant amounts on the horizon;
and its electric generation resource strategy and liquidity profile,
both of which we consider to be proactively managed and appropriate for
the utility's current operating profile. A key ongoing challenge
relates to the Boardman coal plant given uncertainties surrounding its
future operating status and potential for carbon related costs tied to
PGE ratings affirmed with a stable outlook included:
Senior secured debt and senior secured shelf at A3 and (P)A3, respectively;
Senior unsecured debt, Bank Revolver and Issuer Rating all at Baa2;
Short term rating for commercial paper at Prime-2
Moody's last rating action related to PGE occurred on August 3,
2009 we upgraded PGE's senior secured ratings to A3 from Baa1 as
part of the decision to widen the notching between senior secured and
senior unsecured debt of most regulated utilities to two notches from
one notch previously.
The principal methodology used in rating PGE was Rating Methodology:
Regulated Electric and Gas Utilities, published August 2009 and
available on www.moodys.com in the Rating Methodologies
sub-directory under the Research and Ratings tab. Other
methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process
of these issuers can also be found in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory
on Moody's website.
Portland General Electric Company is a vertically integrated electric
utility company with headquarters in Portland, Oregon.
Kevin G. Rose
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Infrastructure Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
William L. Hess
Infrastructure Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
Moody's changes Portland General Electric's rating outlook to stable
No Related Data.
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