JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In a move expected to benefit ratepayers, the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) has modified an order allowing Ameren Missouri to sell up to $150 million in bonds to refinance debt in a way to take advantage of favorable markets.
The commission voted unanimously Thursday to change a prior order that allowed Ameren to issue and sell the bonds to refinance the electric and gas provider’s short-term debt. The commission on June 1 approved Ameren’s request, but Ameren asked the order be modified on Monday.
“My understanding of the motion is that the capital markets are much more favorable than originally anticipated,” Chairman Daniel Hall said. “… Modifying the order as requested will result in reduction in cost of debt which will benefit the company and, of course, rate payers.”
The Ameren request to modify the order was the only item on the agenda and only Hall appeared in person, with the other four commissioners attending via conference call.
In its original request, Ameren’s lawyers wrote that the price to be paid for the bonds would not be less than 92 percent or more than 100 percent of the aggregate principal amount, according to the request on file with the commission. But in Ameren’s modified motion, the utility reported that it had found that market conditions had changed so that it may be able to issue the bonds at a price greater than the 100 percent of the aggregate principal amount.
Ameren was required to get permission from the commission because the maximum price the commission approved at the June 1 meeting was 100 percent. The modified order does not set a maximum price.
PCS’s staff and the Office of Public Counsel, an independent group that represents rate payers, both recommended that the modified order be approved.
Ameren Missouri serves more than 1.2 million electric and 130,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri with a coverage area that includes 64 counties and more than 500 communities, including the greater St. Louis area.
Upcoming PSC meetings are scheduled for June 22, June 29, July 6, July 12 and July 20.