|NRG ENERGY, INC. filed this Form 10-K on 03/01/2018|
Fuel Supply and Transportation
NRG's fuel requirements consist of various forms of fossil fuel (including coal, natural gas and oil) and nuclear fuel. The prices of fossil fuels are highly volatile. The Company obtains its fossil fuels from multiple suppliers and through multiple transporters. Although availability is generally not an issue, localized shortages, transportation availability, delays arising from extreme weather conditions and supplier financial stability issues can and do occur. The preceding factors related to the sources and availability of raw materials are fairly uniform across the Company's businesses and fuel products used.
Coal — The Company believes it is adequately hedged, using forward coal supply agreements, for its domestic coal consumption for 2018. NRG actively manages its coal requirements based on forecasted generation, market volatility and its inventory on site. As of December 31, 2017, NRG had purchased forward contracts to provide fuel for approximately 41% of the Company's expected requirements from 2018 through 2021, including expected coal inventory draw down. NRG purchased approximately 21 million tons of coal in 2017, almost all of which was Powder River Basin coal. For fuel transport, NRG has entered into various rail and barge transportation and rail car lease agreements with varying tenures that provide for most of the Company's transportation requirements of Powder River Basin coal for the next 4 years.
The following table shows the percentage of the Company's coal requirements from 2018 through 2021 that have been purchased forward as of December 31, 2017:
Natural Gas — NRG operates a fleet of mid-merit and peaking natural gas plants across all its U.S. wholesale regions. Fuel needs are managed on a spot basis, especially for peaking assets, as the Company does not believe it is prudent to forward purchase natural gas for these types of units, the dispatch of which is highly unpredictable. The Company contracts for natural gas storage services as well as natural gas transportation services to deliver natural gas when needed.
Nuclear Fuel — STP's owners satisfy their fuel supply requirements by: (i) acquiring uranium concentrates and contracting for conversion of the uranium concentrates into uranium hexafluoride; (ii) contracting for enrichment of uranium hexafluoride; and (iii) contracting for fabrication of nuclear fuel assemblies. Through its proportionate participation in STPNOC, which is the NRC-licensed operator of STP and responsible for all aspects of fuel procurement, NRG is party to a number of long-term forward purchase contracts with many of the world's largest suppliers covering STP's requirements for uranium concentrates with only approximately 25% of STP's requirements outstanding for the duration of the original operating license. Similarly, NRG is party to long-term contracts to procure STP's requirements for conversion and enrichment services and fuel fabrication for the life of the operating license. Since the operating license was renewed for another 20 years in September 2017, STPNOC has begun to review a second phase of fuel purchasing.
In 2017, NRG's retail businesses sold electricity to residential, commercial and industrial consumers at either fixed, indexed or variable prices. Residential and smaller commercial consumers typically contract for terms ranging from one month to five years while industrial contracts are often between one year and five years in length. In 2017, NRG's retail businesses sold approximately 63 TWhs of electricity. In any given year, the quantity of TWhs sold can be affected by weather, economic conditions and competition. The wholesale supply is typically purchased as the load is contracted from a combination of NRG's wholesale portfolio and other third parties. The ability to choose supply from the market or the Company's portfolio allows for an optimal combination to support and stabilize retail margins.