Moody’s, Standard & Poor's Reaffirm Charleston Water System Triple-A Bond Ratings
Top ratings lower borrowing costs for infrastructure improvements.
Charleston Water System (CWS) recently earned the highest possible bond credit ratings from Moody's Investors Service (Moody’s) at Aaa and Standard & Poor’s S&P Global Ratings (S&P) at AAA. Both Triple-A ratings apply to CWS’s $130 million reoffering of the Waterworks and Sewer System Revenue Bonds, Series 2006B. In addition, both research agencies also maintain their Triple-A rating on the system's $524.2 million existing revenue bonds. CWS initially received the S&P AAA rating in 2010 and Moody’s Aaa in 2015. Since those initial upgrades, the utility has had seven affirmations of this rating by S&P and five affirmations by Moody’s. CWS is the only water and wastewater utility in South Carolina to hold a Triple-A rating from Moody’s.
These ratings reflect CWS’s sizeable, regionally important service area that is projected to experience continual growth, as well as low risk operations and very strong operational and financial management. High liquidity also played an important role in the top ratings.
“These stellar ratings reflect our utility’s hard work, strategic planning, and financial integrity,” said CEO Kin Hill. “We are very grateful to have an outstanding Board of Commissioners whose commitment, diligence, and support help us excel in all areas, with a particular emphasis on financial management.”
Strong bond ratings help utilities secure low interest rates and market their bonds at the lowest interest rates possible, which both help to minimize water and sewer rate increases needed to repay debt. CWS operations are funded through water and sewer rates and fees, while the utility’s capital improvements program is funded through water and sewer rates, new development impact fees, and interest income.
“We exist to serve our customers and we’re dedicated to providing outstanding service at the lowest possible cost,” said CWS Board of Commissioners Chairman Thomas B. Pritchard. “Saving money for our customers is always a top priority.”
The CWS 2019-2022 Capital Improvement Program consists of critical water and sewer infrastructure projects including:
• Plum Island WWTP Phase 4 Improvements
• Peninsula Trunk Main 3A – Phases 1 and 2
• West Ashley Transmission Main
• Water Main Replacements / Rehabilitation Program
• Customer Service / IT / Emergency Operations Facility
• John’s Island Wastewater Interceptor System Expansion - Phase 3
• Thomas Island Regional Pump Station and Sewer System - Phase 1
• Gibson Raw Water Pump Station Improvements
• Hanahan Water Treatment Plant Disinfectant Contact Basin
• Ben Sawyer – Intracoastal Water Main Crossing
• Pump Station and Collection System Rehabilitation
“The best companies, governments, and organizations who have strong financial management as a whole get AAA ratings,” said CFO Wesley Ropp. “Many people believe that income statements and balance sheets drive bond ratings, but we know that our employees and their commitment to excellence truly make the difference.”
About Charleston Water System
Charleston Water System is a public water and wastewater utility that provides water service to more than 450,000 people in greater Charleston area and sewer service to 180,000 people, primarily in the city of Charleston. Learn more at www.charlestonwater.com.