Last month, Officials with LUS and Lafayette Consolidated Government met with bond rating agencies Moody's and Standard & Poor's in New York to give a detailed presentation on the fiber project. LUS Director Terry Huval fielded a number of questions from the agencies on everything from state law and lawsuits affecting the project to the overall financial health of LUS, LCG, and the regional economy.
Louisiana state law provides LUS can only indirectly back the bonds on the project, through fair market loans to its new communications division. "We're plowing through a lot of new territory here," Huval says. "I don't know if there's been very many entities that have issued bonds for a communications system like this. So there's a lot of attention being given here."
At the end of the day, Standard and Poor's gave the project an A- rating and Moody's awarded an A2. Both ratings are only one step below LUS' regular utility bond rating of A and A1. But with bond insurance, purchased through XL Capital, LUS will still receive a AAA rating with investors. That translates into an interest rate slightly under 5 percent for the approximately $110.45 million in bonds LUS is selling for the project.
"We were very pleased with those results," Huval says. "We've got the best rating we could have hoped to have gotten out of this." He adds that the bond agencies spoke highly of both LUS' ability to handle large projects, such as the two new generating plants that were built on time and on budget, as well as the merits of the fiber initiative. "They commented favorably about our commitment and vision on the project," Huval says. "I think they also saw that this could be a very powerful thing for a community to be able to do."
LUS' bond sale faced multiple lawsuits related to the public utility's ability to back up the sale on behalf of its communications start-up. Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of LUS on the issue, allowing it to move forward with its bond sale. LUS first introduced its initiative to operate a citywide network offering phone, cable and high-speed internet to residents in 2004. City voters approved a measure to allow LUS the ability to issue up to $125 million in bonds for the project nearly two years ago, in July 2005. Huval says the legal delays, brought both by BellSouth and mysterious resident-opponent Elizabeth Naquin, have unintentionally helped the project in some ways. "Technology-wise and know-how wise, we now have a number of advantages as a result of the delays," Huval says. "There's a lot more experience that folks have and the engineering company we brought in, Atlantic Engineering, is already providing us a lot of insight."
This summer, LUS will work on preparing a bid package for construction of the project, which should be under way before the end of the year. LUS hopes to begin serving its first customers starting in 2009.
The Lafayette superintendent insists the budget is illegal and vows to fight on.
"I am not a scientist," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said numerous times, a response that other members of his party have parroted.
Republicans are running strong races against endangered Democratic incumbents in states such as North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska. Republicans are also looking to replace retiring Democrats in Iowa and West Virginia with a GOP lawmaker.
Republican congressman Vance McAllister is trying to make up to Louisiana voters for getting too close to a married former employee.
You may not like all of “it,” but U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, unlike many of her colleagues, isn't sitting around twiddling her thumbs in Congress.
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro says he "can't wait" to play against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The heat keeps rising for Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal as a new slate of corruption allegations surfaced this week.
If opposing defenses sell out to stop the Packers' passing game, they risk being gashed by powerful running back Eddie Lacy, a New Orleans-area native.
At the horn the officiating crew trotted to the tunnel and left security personnel to clean up after them.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.