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California to Refinance $2 Billion Power-Crisis Bonds Next Week

California is planning to sell $2 billion of bonds next week to refinance debt that raised money to purchase electricity for cash-strapped utilities during the state’s power crisis in 2001 and 2002.

The California Department of Water Resources is scheduled to sell the securities on May 5, according to California Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s office. Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for Lockyer, said the securities will be offered first to small investors, with shorter maturities intended to capture the interest of that market.

The water resources department sold bonds to finance the purchase of electricity for investor-owned utilities when wholesale prices soared because of shortages. Dresslar said the refinancing will cut the cost of servicing those bonds, which are backed by revenue from customers’ bills.

“It would save investor-owned utility ratepayers’ money,” Dresslar said.

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