|NRG ENERGY, INC. filed this Form 10-K on 02/29/2016|
NRG's generation and demand response assets located in the East region of the U.S. are within the control areas of the ISO-NE, NYISO and PJM. Each of the market regions in the East region provides for robust competition in the day-ahead and real-time energy and ancillary services markets. Additionally, each allows capacity resources to compete for fixed cost recovery in a capacity auction.
The East region achieves a significant portion of its revenues from capacity markets in ISO-NE, NYISO and PJM. PJM and ISO-NE employ a three-year forward capacity auction construct, while NYISO employs a month-ahead capacity auction construct. Capacity market prices are sensitive to design parameters, as well as additions of new capacity. Both ISO-NE and PJM operate a pay-for-performance model where capacity payments are modified based on real-time generator performance. In such markets, NRG’s actual revenues will be the combination of cleared auction MWs times the quantity of MWs cleared, plus the net of any over-performance “bonus payments” and any under-performance charges. Non-performance penalties are set to increase over the next several years to over $3,000/MW-hour. In both markets, bidding rules allow for the incorporation of a risk premium into generator bids.
The Company operates a fleet of natural gas fired facilities located entirely within the CAISO footprint. The CAISO operates day-ahead and real-time locational markets for energy and ancillary services, while managing congestion primarily through nodal prices. The CAISO system facilitates NRG's sale of power, ancillary services and capacity products at market-based rates, either within the CAISO's centralized energy and ancillary service markets or bilaterally pursuant to tolling arrangements or other capacity sale with California's LSEs. The CPUC also determines capacity requirements for LSEs and for specified local areas utilizing inputs from the CAISO. Both the CAISO and CPUC rules require LSEs to contract with sufficient generation resources in order to maintain minimum levels of generation within defined local areas. Additionally, the CAISO has independent authority to contract with needed resources under certain circumstances, typically either when LSEs have failed to procure sufficient resources, or system conditions change unexpectedly.
The increase in renewable resources in California is expected to drive a growing need for generation resources with increased operating flexibility, in addition to the established need for dispatchable generation within transmission-constrained areas of the transmission system, such as the San Diego, Greater San Francisco Bay Area, Big Creek/Ventura, and Los Angeles local reliability areas in which the Company currently operates natural gas-fired generation. The projected retirement of older flexible gas-fired coastal generating units that utilize once-through cooling is also a significant driver of long-term prices in California. Implementing market mechanisms to procure the needed flexibility, and allocating the costs associated with this flexibility, are key CAISO initiatives. The Company is pursuing repowering projects at several of its Southern California sites pursuant to long-term contracts.
The Company operates a fleet of utility scale and distributed renewable generating assets across the U.S. Many states have implemented their own renewable portfolio standards requiring LSEs to provide a given percentage of their energy sales from renewable resources, such as 33% of generation by 2020 in California. As a result, a number of LSEs have entered into long-term PPAs with the Company's utility scale renewable generating facilities. In California and Arizona, investor-owned utilities are nearing their procurement requirement, resulting in a trend towards smaller sized utility scale projects and a shift of contracting to municipalities and other public power entities. In December 2015, the U.S. Congress enacted an extension of the 30% solar ITC so that projects which begin construction in 2016 through 2019 will continue to qualify for the 30% ITC. Projects beginning construction in 2020 and 2021 will be eligible for the ITC at the rates of 26% and 22%, respectively. The same legislation also extended the 10-year wind PTC for wind projects which begin construction in years 2016 through 2019. Wind projects which begin construction in the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 are eligible for PTC at 80%, 60% and 40% of the statutory rate per kWh, respectively.