DALLAS - Standard & Poor's upgraded the El Paso Water Utilities, Texas credit rating to AA-plus from AA in advance of a nearly $70 million refunding issue expected to price the week of Jan. 6 through negotiation with Raymond James as manager.

The upgrade brings S&P in line with Fitch Ratings. Moody's Investors Service does not rate the deal.

Outlooks are stable.

"The rating change reflects our view of the utility's financial performance, which has been positive in recent years," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst James Breeding. "Strong financial results appear to be sustainable as the utility manages its capital improvement program."

S&P also affirmed its A-1-plus short-term rating on the city's series A water and sewer commercial paper notes based on the water and sewer system's long-term creditworthiness and additional liquidity provided by a revolving credit agreement with JP Morgan Chase Bank.

The credit agreement with JP Morgan was renewed in 2013 and now extends until August 2014.

The total amount of the CP program is $40 million, which the city uses to provide funds for the interim financing of a portion of its capital improvement program. Typically, the city regularly issues refunding bonds to fix the capital costs of its commercial paper program.

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