The credit ratings agency upgraded approximately US$1B senior and subordinated consolidated system revenue bonds and hydroelectric project revenue bonds to ‘AA+’ from ‘AA’.

Fitch also gave ‘AA+’ ratings to the utility’s plan to issue up to a total of US$75M in revenue/refunding bonds related to the 1300MW Rocky Reach and 624MW Rock Island hydro power plants. The bonds are secured by the plants’ net revenues, said Fitch.

The agency added that new power sales contracts had better terms that would likely boost the utility’s net margins on average hydrological conditions. The utility is also placed to benefit from state governments pushing for use of more renewable energy, added Fitch.

Fitch said, further, that credit risks are few and manageable, such as hydrological risk, the volatility of power resale revenues and the relicensing process underway for Rocky Reach.

Further developments for Chelan County PUD include the anticipated filing of the final biological opinion as part of the relicensing application for Rocky Reach, which Chelan PUD hopes to see approved early next year. The opinion will be prepared by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The utility has already obtained new licences for its two other hydr opower assets, the Rock Island and 48MW Lake Chelan plants.

In the middle of this year the utility agreed to a 17-year supply contract for Alcoa’s smelter in Wenatchee, Washington state. The plants to supply the smelter are Rocky Reach and Rock Island.