|NRG ENERGY, INC. filed this Form 10-K on 03/01/2018|
Public utilities under the FPA are required to obtain FERC acceptance of their rate schedules for wholesale sales of electricity. Except for ERCOT generating facilities and power marketers, all of NRG's non-qualifying facility generating companies and power marketing affiliates in the U.S. make sales of electricity in interstate commerce and are public utilities for purposes of the FPA. FERC has granted each of NRG's generating and power marketing companies that make sales of electricity outside of ERCOT the authority to sell electricity at market-based rates. FERC's orders that grant NRG's generating and power marketing companies market-based rate authority reserve the right to revoke or revise that authority if FERC subsequently determines that NRG can exercise market power in transmission or generation, create barriers to entry, or engage in abusive affiliate transactions. In addition, NRG's market-based sales are subject to certain market behavior rules, and if any of NRG's generating and power marketing companies were deemed to have violated those rules, they are subject to potential disgorgement of profits associated with the violation and/or suspension or revocation of their market-based rate authority. If NRG's generating and power marketing companies were to lose their market-based rate authority, such companies would be required to obtain FERC's acceptance of a cost-of-service rate schedule and could become subject to the accounting, record-keeping, and reporting requirements that are imposed on utilities with cost-based rate schedules. This could have a material adverse effect on the rates NRG charges for power from its facilities.
Substantially all of the Company's generation assets are also subject to the reliability standards promulgated by the designated Electric Reliability Organization (currently NERC) and approved by FERC. If NRG fails to comply with the mandatory reliability standards, NRG could be subject to sanctions, including substantial monetary penalties and increased compliance obligations. NRG is also affected by legislative and regulatory changes, as well as changes to market design, market rules, tariffs, cost allocations, and bidding rules that occur in the existing ISOs. The ISOs that oversee most of the wholesale power markets impose, and in the future may continue to impose, mitigation, including price limitations, offer caps, non-performance penalties and other mechanisms to address some of the volatility and the potential exercise of market power in these markets. These types of price limitations and other regulatory mechanisms may have a material adverse effect on the profitability of NRG's generation facilities that sell energy and capacity into the wholesale power markets.
The regulatory environment has undergone significant changes in the last several years due to state and federal policies affecting wholesale and retail competition and the creation of incentives for the addition of large amounts of new renewable generation and, in some cases, transmission. These changes are ongoing, and the Company cannot predict the future design of the wholesale power markets or the ultimate effect that the changing regulatory environment will have on NRG's business. In addition, in some of these markets, interested parties have proposed material market design changes, including the elimination of a single clearing price mechanism, as well as proposals to reinstate the vertical monopoly utility of the markets or require divestiture by generating companies to reduce their market share. If competitive restructuring of the electric power markets is reversed, discontinued, or delayed, the Company's business prospects and financial results could be negatively impacted. In addition, since 2010, there have been a number of reforms to the regulation of the derivatives markets, both in the United States and internationally. These regulations, and any further changes thereto, or adoption of additional regulations, including any regulations relating to position limits on futures and other derivatives or margin for derivatives, could negatively impact NRG’s ability to hedge its portfolio in an efficient, cost-effective manner by, among other things, potentially decreasing liquidity in the forward commodity and derivatives markets or limiting NRG’s ability to utilize non-cash collateral for derivatives transactions.
NRG’s business may be affected by state interference in the competitive wholesale marketplace.
NRG’s legacy generation and competitive retail businesses rely on a competitive wholesale marketplace. The competitive wholesale marketplace may be undermined by out-of-market subsidies provided by states or state entities, including bailouts of uneconomic nuclear plants, imports of power from Canada, renewable mandates or subsidies, as well as out-of-market payments to new generators. These out-of-market subsidies to existing or new generation undermine the competitive wholesale marketplace, which can lead to premature retirement of existing facilities, including those owned by the Company. If these measures continue, capacity and energy prices may be suppressed, and the Company may not be successful in its efforts to insulate the competitive market from this interference.
Government regulations providing incentives for renewable generation could change at any time and such changes may adversely impact NRG's business, revenues, margins, results of operations and cash flows.
The Company's growth strategy depends in part on government policies that support renewable generation and enhance the economic viability of owning renewable electric generation assets. Renewable generation assets currently benefit from various federal, state and local governmental incentives such as ITCs, PTCs, cash grants in lieu of ITCs, loan guarantees, RPS programs, modified accelerated cost-recovery system of depreciation and bonus depreciation. For example, in December 2015, the U.S. Congress enacted an extension of the 30% solar ITC so that projects which began 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 began construction in 2016 through 2019. Wind projects which begin construction in the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 are eligible for PTCs at 80%, 60% and 40% of the statutory rate per kWh, respectively.