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Moody's boosts GUC credit rating In advance of bond sale

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Tony Cannon

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Moody's Investor Services has upgraded Greenville Utilities Commission's credit rating to 'Aa1' with a stable outlook in advance of upcoming bond sales.

Fellow global rating agency Fitch Ratings affirmed GUC's credit rating of 'AA-'. Both ratings are considered "High Grade" and should help GUC at the time of the bond sales.

"Boosting or maintaining our credit rating is important because it allows us to achieve lower interest rates when we sell bonds to make needed improvements and upgrades to our infrastructure," said GUC General Manager/CEO Tony Cannon. "Those lower rates mean we, and in the end our customers, pay less on the money we borrow. That is critical for us to be able to meet our mission of safely providing reliable utility solutions at the lowest reasonable cost."

Moody's upgrade reflects their findings of the commission's "continued sound operating results and conservative management."

The high ratings also reflect GUC's comprehensive long-range financial planning, moderate but manageable debt burden, and stable service area. Additional key factors are conservative management, diverse combined utility revenue streams, regional service provisions, and the elimination of generation risk following the sale of the system's stake in NCEMPA generation ownership assets in 2015.

The ability of the GUC Board to change rates with a 10-day notice was noted by Fitch as providing the Commission with "strong rate flexibility," another significant component in receiving the high ratings from the credit rating agencies.

Earlier this month, a team from GUC visited with Moody's and Fitch in order to receive a rating for the upcoming bond sale. These visits are routinely conducted to update each agency on GUC's leadership, strategic vision, status of operations, five-year financial forecast, financial viability, regional economy and the utility's ability to meet customers' needs.

GUC is scheduled to sell bonds to help finance upcoming system improvements included in the Capital Improvements Plan.

Awards

Greenville Utilities recently received five Awards of Excellence from ElectriCities of North Carolina. This is the fourteenth consecutive year GUC has received the awards. Awards were presented in the following categories:

■ Grid Modernization — Promote investment in public power communities' electric distribution systems and in technology to ensure safety and reliability, and exceed customer expectations;

■ Value of Public Power — Communicate the value of electric system ownership to key stakeholders;

■ Wholesale Power Cost — Provide competitive and stable wholesale electric rates that meet the power supply need of Power Agency Members;

■ Workforce Planning and Development — Promote a workforce plan to attract, develop, and retain the necessary talent to provide safe, reliable power and lead public power forward; and

■ Continuous Improvement — Constantly review and enhance all aspects of public power, focus on cost reduction, and increase efficiencies in current and future operations.

"Winning awards from organizations like ElectriCities is outstanding," Cannon said. "It's recognition of the quality of work our employees do for our customers day in and day out."

ElectriCities is an organization that represents cities, towns, and universities that own their electric distribution systems. Greenville Utilities is a member of ElectriCities, along with more than 90 other members in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

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