LOS ANGELES - The decision to close Oregon's only nuclear Power plant win not affect debt service requirements on a Eugene Water And Electric Board bond- issue that helped finance the project, according a lawyer familiar with the deal.
The Bonneville Power Administration has a "hell or high-water obligation" that secures the Eugene utility's bonds, Preston Michie, assistant general counsel for Bonneville, said last week.
Accordingly, Bonneville must pay debt service on the bonds, even if the Trojan Nuclear Electric Plant is closed, Mr. Michie added.
Portland General Electric Co.. a private utility with a 67.5% stake in the Trojan plant, said last week that its board of directors approved phasing out the plant by 19% Portland General said closure is more cost-effective than replacing the plant's steam generators and operating the facility until the year 2011.
The Eugene utility sold $ 119 million of tax-exempt bonds on behalf of the Trojan plant and owns 30% of the project. Another private utility, Pacific Power and Light Co., owns a 2.5% share. Bonneville, a federal power marketing agency serving the Pacific Northwest, secures the Eugene utility, bonds in exchange for an interest in 30% of the plant's output.
The security for the bonds is essentially like the net-billing arrangements that obligate Bonneville to pay debt service for Washington Public Power Supply System nuclear power projects 1,2, and 3.
Based on Bonneville's backing. the Eugene utility's Trojan debt is rated double-A.
Oregon voters twice in recent years have defeated citizens' initiatives, close the Trojan plant. Opponents of the plant wanted to close it until there are options for disposing its nuclear waste.
In the past. the potential closure concerned some rating analysts, who noted the region would have to find replacement power for the 1,130-megawatt plant.
But Bonneville officials told the rating agencies last week that "they don't see it as a big concern" if the plant is not closed until 1996. said Philip Edwards, a director at Standard & Poor's Corp.
According to Bonneville officials, the proposed closing date would provide time to find other power resources that are equally cost-effective, Mr. Edwards said. If that is the case, a 1996 closing would essentially be a "neutral" development for the region. Mr. Edwards said.
He added, however, that.1a proposed November ballot initiative "could cause some concern" if it succeeds. Like past Proposals, the initiative seeks to close Trojan immediately.
A faster closure would not only have an impact on resource planning, but also possibly affect voltage stability in the, Puget Sound area, Mr. Edwards said.
Mr. Edwards and officials at other rating agencies met with Bonneville officers in Portland, Ore., last week to discuss an upcoming refinancing of WPPSS 1, 2, and 3 bonds.
In another issue tied to the closing of Trojan, Mr. Michie of Bonneville said "we're trying to sort out" what kind of obligations the federal agency would have regarding decommissioning costs and other closure expenses.
In general, Mr. Michie noted, Bonneville is obligated to pay "all of the costs" arising in connection with the Eugene utility's 30% stake in the facility.