Date
Tuesday, September 10, 2024
Time
3:15 PM - 3:45 PM
Location Name
M109/110
Name
Key Features of a WIFIA Loan – Financing Capital Infrastructure for the Future
Track
Finance & Data Analytics
Description

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014 (WIFIA) established a federal credit program administered by EPA for eligible water and wastewater infrastructure projects. While the intent of the program is to help finance large capital projects, there may be misconceptions regarding eligibility for small systems. The WIFIA program provides opportunities for both large and small communities. This presentation will outline key components of project eligibility and program features, procurement process milestones, and key insights to Jacobs’ experience and lessons learned from examples of WIFIA projects of various size, scope, cost, and funding options. The WIFIA program was created to help accelerate investment in our nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost, supplemental credit assistance under customized terms to creditworthy water and wastewater projects of national and regional significance. A small amount of federal funds supports a much larger amount of infrastructure investment given that the typical loan finances up to 49% of project costs stimulating additional investment in the project. Since its inception, the WIFIA program has provided $30.5 Billion in loans across 183 loan closings. Even after 10-years, the WIFIA program continues to evolve to provide water and wastewater system flexibility in financing capital infrastructure projects. The WIFIA program offers many benefits for small borrowers (population of 25,000 or less), such as financing up to 80% of eligible project costs, a minimum project size of $5M vs $20M, and a reduced application fee of $25,000. Additional features of the WIFIA program include a financing term of up to 35 years with an option to defer repayment for up to 5 years following substantial completion, and fixed interest rate approximately equal to the U.S. Treasury rate at the time of loan closing. The WIFIA program often utilizes SRF loans as a co-funding option, however other funding options include grants from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), revenue bonds, direct fees and private financing. Borrower and project eligibility should be determined at the conceptual phase in a capital improvement program. Eligible borrowers are local, state and tribal government entities, partnerships, joint ventures, corporations, trusts and of course Clean Water (CW) and Drinking Water (DW) SRF programs. Eligible projects typically consist of water or wastewater collection and treatment systems, green infrastructure, water reuse, desalination, decentralized wastewater treatment or stormwater management. The borrower may also fund a combination of CW and DW projects provided they share a common security pledge. The loan procurement can vary between 12 to 24 months, so it is important to plan your capital budgeting. One recent notable change was EPA accepting Letter of Interest (LOI) on a rolling basis throughout the year, thus eliminating submittal deadlines. The LOI should identify scope, schedule and budget. A clear advantage to the WIFIA program is that plans, specifications, or Preliminary Engineering Report are not required at this stage. They acknowledge funding begins at the conceptual phase and recognize the fluidity of project components throughout the design. The main requirement is the consistency of the project goal.