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Fitch Rates Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency Drinking Water SRF 'AAA'.

CHICAGO -- Fitch Ratings assigns an 'AAA' rating to the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency's (the agency) $4.9 million safe drinking water revolving fund revenue bonds, series 2007A (pooled loan issue). The bonds are expected to price on February 6 via negotiation led by JP Morgan. Bond proceeds will be loaned to three borrowers for certain drinking water projects through the safe drinking water state revolving fund (DWSRF). The Rating Outlook is Stable.

The 'AAA' rating on the developing DWSRF program reflects strong default tolerance due to sizable reserves and high loan credit quality. DWSRF federal capitalization grants are typically deposited into a reserve fund, which is available to cure loan defaults from the statewide pool of municipal borrowers. After this issue, DWSRF reserves will equal $26.7 million or approximately 29% of outstanding bonds and provide continued bond performance assuming 100% defaults for four years. Nearly 47% of all DWSRF loans could default over the life of the bonds without any interruption in payments to bondholders.

As additional security, the agency could invest its clean water state revolving fund (CWSRF, loan pool program is rated 'AAA' by Fitch) or DWSRF reserves in either pool should any of the borrowers default, which is permitted under the 2004 cross-investment agreement. However, the agency is not legally obligated to use this feature.

As of this issue, the DWSRF portfolio comprises 12 borrowers, which have made general obligation or water utility pledges to back their loans. Overall credit quality is strong, with 99% of all outstanding principal secured by borrowers with public investment grade ratings or loans insured by 'AAA' bond insurance. Pawtucket is the pool's largest borrower representing approximately 68% of the portfolio.

Fitch's rating definitions and the terms of use of such ratings are available on the agency's public site, www.fitchratings.com. Published ratings, criteria and methodologies are available from this site, at all times. Fitch's code of conduct, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, affiliate firewall, compliance and other relevant policies and procedures are also available from the 'Code of Conduct' section of this site.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jan 31, 2007
Words:345
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