|NRG ENERGY, INC. filed this Form 10-K on 03/01/2018|
Derivative fair value measurements
A portion of the Company's contracts are exchange-traded contracts with readily available quoted market prices. A majority of NRG's contracts are non-exchange-traded contracts valued using prices provided by external sources, primarily price quotations available through brokers or over-the-counter and on-line exchanges. For the majority of NRG markets, the Company receives quotes from multiple sources. To the extent that NRG receives multiple quotes, the Company's prices reflect the average of the bid-ask mid-point prices obtained from all sources that NRG believes provide the most liquid market for the commodity. If the Company receives one quote, then the mid-point of the bid-ask spread for that quote is used. The terms for which such price information is available vary by commodity, region and product. A significant portion of the fair value of the Company's derivative portfolio is based on price quotes from brokers in active markets who regularly facilitate those transactions and the Company believes such price quotes are executable. The Company does not use third party sources that derive price based on proprietary models or market surveys. The remainder of the assets and liabilities represents contracts for which external sources or observable market quotes are not available. These contracts are valued based on various valuation techniques including but not limited to internal models based on a fundamental analysis of the market and extrapolation of observable market data with similar characteristics. Contracts valued with prices provided by models and other valuation techniques make up 6% of derivative assets and 10% of derivative liabilities. The fair value of each contract is discounted using a risk free interest rate. In addition, the Company applies a credit reserve to reflect credit risk, which for interest rate swaps is calculated utilizing the bilateral method based on published default probabilities. For commodities, to the extent that NRG's net exposure under a specific master agreement is an asset, the Company uses the counterparty's default swap rate. If the exposure under a specific master agreement is a liability, the Company uses NRG's default swap rate. For interest rate swaps and commodities, the credit reserve is added to the discounted fair value to reflect the exit price that a market participant would be willing to receive to assume NRG's liabilities or that a market participant would be willing to pay for NRG's assets. As of December 31, 2017, the credit reserve resulted in no change in fair value in operating revenue and cost of operations. As of December 31, 2016 the credit reserve resulted in a $10 million decrease in fair value in operating revenue and cost of operations.
The fair values in each category reflect the level of forward prices and volatility factors as of December 31, 2017, and may change as a result of changes in these factors. Management uses its best estimates to determine the fair value of commodity and derivative contracts NRG holds and sells. These estimates consider various factors including closing exchange and over-the-counter price quotations, time value, volatility factors and credit exposure. It is possible, however, that future market prices could vary from those used in recording assets and liabilities from energy marketing and trading activities and such variations could be material.
NRG's significant positions classified as Level 3 include physical and financial power executed in illiquid markets as well as financial transmission rights, or FTRs. The significant unobservable inputs used in developing fair value include illiquid power location pricing which is derived as a basis to liquid locations. The basis spread is based on observable market data when available or derived from historic prices and forward market prices from similar observable markets when not available. For FTRs, NRG uses the most recent auction prices to derive the fair value.
The following tables quantify the significant unobservable inputs used in developing the fair value of the Company's Level 3 positions as of December 31, 2017 and 2016: