Derivative Financial Instruments
NRG accounts for derivative financial instruments under ASC 815, which requires the Company to record all derivatives on the balance sheet at fair value unless they qualify for a NPNS exception. Changes in the fair value of non-hedge derivatives are immediately recognized in earnings. Changes in the fair value of derivatives accounted for as hedges, if elected for hedge accounting, are either:
Recognized in earnings as an offset to the changes in the fair value of the related hedged assets, liabilities and firm commitments; or
Deferred and recorded as a component of accumulated OCI until the hedged transactions occur and are recognized in earnings.
NRG's primary derivative instruments are power purchase or sales contracts, fuels purchase contracts, other energy related commodities, and interest rate instruments used to mitigate variability in earnings due to fluctuations in market prices and interest rates. On an ongoing basis, NRG assesses the effectiveness of all derivatives that are designated as hedges for accounting purposes in order to determine that each derivative continues to be highly effective in offsetting changes in fair values or cash flows of hedged items. Internal analyses that measure the statistical correlation between the derivative and the associated hedged item determine the effectiveness of such a contract designated as a hedge. If it is determined that the derivative instrument is not highly effective as a hedge, hedge accounting will be discontinued prospectively. In this case, the gain or loss previously deferred in accumulated OCI would be frozen until the underlying hedged instrument is delivered unless the transactions being hedged are no longer probable of occurring in which case the amount in OCI would be immediately reclassified into earnings. If the derivative instrument is terminated, the effective portion of this derivative deferred in accumulated OCI will be frozen until the underlying hedged item is delivered.
Revenues and expenses on contracts that qualify for the NPNS exception are recognized when the underlying physical transaction is delivered. While these contracts are considered derivative financial instruments under ASC 815, they are not recorded at fair value, but on an accrual basis of accounting. If it is determined that a transaction designated as NPNS no longer meets the scope exception, the fair value of the related contract is recorded on the balance sheet and immediately recognized through earnings.
NRG's trading activities are subject to limits in accordance with the Company's Risk Management Policy. These contracts are recognized on the balance sheet at fair value and changes in the fair value of these derivative financial instruments are recognized in earnings.
Foreign Currency Translation and Transaction Gains and Losses
The local currencies are generally the functional currency of NRG's foreign operations. Foreign currency denominated assets and liabilities are translated at end-of-period rates of exchange. Revenues, expenses, and cash flows are translated at the weighted-average rates of exchange for the period. The resulting currency translation adjustments are not included in the Company's statements of operations for the period, but are accumulated and reported as a separate component of stockholders' equity until sale or complete or substantially complete liquidation of the net investment in the foreign entity takes place. Foreign currency transaction gains or losses are reported within other income/(expense) in the Company's statements of operations. For the years ended December 31, 2015, 2014, and 2013, amounts recognized as foreign currency transaction gains (losses) were immaterial. The Company's cumulative translation adjustment balances as of December 31, 2015, 2014, and 2013 were $(10) million, $1 million and $15 million, respectively.
Concentrations of Credit Risk
Financial instruments which potentially subject the Company to concentrations of credit risk consist primarily of trust funds, accounts receivable, notes receivable, derivatives, and investments in debt securities. Trust funds are held in accounts managed by experienced investment advisors. Certain accounts receivable, notes receivable, and derivative instruments are concentrated within entities engaged in the energy industry. These industry concentrations may impact the Company's overall exposure to credit risk, either positively or negatively, in that the customers may be similarly affected by changes in economic, industry or other conditions. Receivables and other contractual arrangements are subject to collateral requirements under the terms of enabling agreements. However, the Company believes that the credit risk posed by industry concentration is offset by the diversification and creditworthiness of its customer base. See Note 4, Fair Value of Financial Instruments, for a further discussion of derivative concentrations.