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DUFF & PHELPS DOWNGRADES ORANGE AND ROCKLAND UTILITIES, INC. FIRST MORTGAGE BONDS TO A+

 CHICAGO, Nov. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co. has lowered the credit ratings of Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. as follows: first mortgage bonds to A+ (Single-A-Plus) from AA- (Double-A-Minus); debentures and non-collateralized pollution control revenue bonds to A (Single-A) from A+ (Single-A-Plus); preferred and preference stock to A- (Single-A-Minus) from A (Single-A); and commercial paper to Duff 1 (One) from Duff 1+ (One-Plus). The securities are removed from Rating Watch -- Down. Approximately $466 million of securities are affected.
 The downgrade reflects concern for Orange and Rockland's competitive position and the slowdown in improvement of credit protection measures. Internal cash generation has not been as strong as anticipated, slowing the planned reduction of overall debt. While reported coverages are expected to increase somewhat, adjusted coverages will continue to be pressured by purchased power commitments. Orange and Rockland operates in one of the most competitive regions of the country. The company's ability to compete will be constrained by its high rates.
 Also, it is uncertain whether, or to what extent, the admitted and alleged improper conduct of certain former company employees will affect the company's pending $17.1 million rate case. A decision in the rate case has been delayed by six months, until July 1994. The company recently signed a joint cooperation agreement with the Rockland District Attorney, which should facilitate the investigation process. No criminal charges will be filed against Orange and Rockland, and the company reaffirmed that all funds in question will be passed back to ratepayers. Investigations by the company's current management and others are ongoing. Additionally, lower allowed returns by New York regulators are squeezing financial results, making it unlikely that Orange and Rockland will achieve the performance levels previously anticipated.
 Orange and Rockland Utilities serves more than 252,000 electric customers and 106,900 gas customers in southeastern New York State and adjacent areas in northern New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania.
 -0- 11/10/93
 /CONTACT: John C. Dell of Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co., 312-368-3161/
 (ORU)


CO: Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. ST: New York IN: UTI SU: RTG

JS -- NY096 -- 2932 11/10/93 16:59 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 10, 1993
Words:355
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