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.
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.
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
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.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.