CenterPoint Energy's 2001 rate-reduction bond deal will likely not be affected by power outages to nearly half of the company's customers due to Hurricane Rita. Rating agency officials say the disaster likely falls within the credit enhancement cushions structured into the deal, and, at most, a slight adjustment to the deal's true-up mechanism will be required. "Overall I do not think it is a credit concern," said Weili Chen director in structured finance ratings at Standard & Poor's.

According to data from Houston-based CenterPoint, 700,000 of the company's 1.9 million energy customers lost power due to Rita, however, nearly half of those customers had their power restored within 24 hours of the hurricanes landfall. Over the course of last week, CenterPoint worked to restore power to its customers, with numbers gradually declining until roughly 10,000 remained without power as of last Thursday.

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