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 Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales
If an Acadia Parish fiddler misses a note while swatting a fly, will a St. Martinville accordionist learn “Ma ‘Tite Fille”?
(It's good, it's bad and it's just crazy)