Fitch Ratings, a leading global rating agency of bond issues, has affirmed its "AA" rating of the utility's electric division. The "AA" rating makes MLGW one of Fitch's most highly rated electric systems, and is further evidence of the utility's solid financial performance. The ratings agency looks at several factors in determining the rating. Among them, the quality of management, economic diversity of the service territory and the ability to pay down debt.
"The international financial world recognizes our efforts in maintaining stable rates and outstanding service for our customers," said Joseph Lee, III, MLGW President and CEO. "This rating compliments the two "AAA" ratings our water division has earned from Moody's and Standard and Poor's and speaks directly to the strong performance of our management team." Lee continued.
In its review of performance, Fitch cited MLGW's historic bond transaction with TVA that allows MLGW to pre-purchase part of its electric needs at a reduced rate as a strong indicator of the utility's financial prowess. Through the agreement MLGW is guaranteed a $13 million annual savings through 2018.
Additional support for the rating comes from a service territory that benefits from a diverse and modestly growing regional economy. In its report, it is noted that the top 10 utility customers make up less than 10 percent of MLGW's overall customer load, which is a strong positive according to Fitch. MLGW has a strong role in the economic development efforts of the Memphis Regional Chamber and works to ensure that quality companies and jobs come to Memphis.
"Rating agencies are looking to see that we are a stable and predictable company. We continue to prove our leadership in the financial markets. That same team works hard for our customers every day, ensuring that they have reliable service and the lowest possible cost. That is, and will continue to be, our top priority," Lee said.
MLGW is the largest three-service public power utility in the nation, serving more than 420,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County with some of the lowest combined rates in the U.S.