Item 5 - Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Item 6 - Selected Financial Data
Item 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A - Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 8 - Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Item 9 - Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Item 9A - Controls and Procedures
Item 9B - Other Information
Item 10 - Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 11 - Executive Compensation
Item 12 - Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13 - Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
Item 14 - Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Item 15 - Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules
Item 16 - Form 10-K Summary
Southwestern Public Service Earnings 2018-12-31
SPS 10K Annual Report
10-K 1 sps1231201810-k.htm 10-K Document
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
(Commission File Number)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
(Registrant, State of incorporation or Organization, Address of Principal Executive Officers and Telephone Number)
SOUTHWESTERN PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY
(a New Mexico company)
790 South Buchanan Street
Amarillo, Texas 79101
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act: None
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. ¨ Yes x No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. ¨ Yes x No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. x Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 and Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). x Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulations S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company”, and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. ¨ Large accelerated filer ¨ Accelerated filer x Non-accelerated filer ¨ Smaller Reporting Company ¨ Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). ¨ Yes x No
As of Feb. 22, 2019, 100 shares of common stock, par value $1 per share, were outstanding, all of which were held by Xcel Energy Inc., a Minnesota corporation.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
The information required by Item 14 of Form 10-K is set forth under the heading “Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm – Audit and Non-Audit Fees” in Xcel Energy Inc.’s definitive Proxy Statement for the 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders which definitive Proxy Statement is expected to be filed with the SEC on or about April 1, 2019. Such information set forth under such heading is incorporated herein by this reference hereto.
Southwestern Public Service Company meets the conditions set forth in General Instruction I(1)(a) and (b) of Form 10-K and is therefore filing this form with the reduced disclosure format permitted by General Instruction I(2).
This Form 10-K is filed by SPS. SPS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc. Additional information on Xcel Energy is available on various filings with the SEC. This report should be read in its entirety.
Except for the historical statements contained in this report, the matters discussed herein are forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Such forward-looking statements, including the TCJA’s impact to SPS and its customers, as well as assumptions and other statements identified in this document by the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “objective,” “outlook,” “plan,” “project,” “possible,” “potential,” “should,” “will,” “would” and similar expressions. Actual results may vary materially. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we expressly disclaim any obligation to update any forward-looking information. The following factors, in addition to those discussed elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2018 (including risk factors listed from time to time by SPS in reports filed with the SEC, including “Risk Factors” in Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K hereto), could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: changes in environmental laws and regulations; climate change and other weather, natural disaster and resource depletion, including compliance with any accompanying legislative and regulatory changes; ability to recover costs from customers; reductions in our credit ratings and the costs of maintaining certain contractual relationships; actions of credit rating agencies; general economic conditions, including inflation rates, monetary fluctuations and their impact on capital expenditures and the ability of SPS to obtain financing on favorable terms; availability or cost of capital; our customers’ and counterparties’ ability to pay their debts to us; assumptions and costs relating to funding our employee benefit plans and health care benefits; tax laws; operational safety; successful long-term operational planning; commodity risks associated with energy markets and production; rising energy prices; costs of potential regulatory penalties; effects of geopolitical events, including war and acts of terrorism; cyber security threats and data security breaches; fuel costs; and employee work force and third party contractor factors.
Where To Find More Information
SPS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc., and Xcel Energy’s website address is www.xcelenergy.com. Xcel Energy makes available, free of charge through its website, its annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and all amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as soon as reasonably practicable after the reports are electronically filed with or furnished to the SEC. The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically at http://www.sec.gov.
SPS was incorporated in 1921 under the laws of New Mexico. SPS conducts business in Texas and New Mexico and generates, purchases, transmits, distributes and sells electricity.
*Distributed generation from the Solar*Rewards® program is not included (approximately 13 million KWh for 2018).
Energy Source Statistics
In 2018, of SPS’ total energy generation, 49% was owned and 51% was purchased. In 2017, 47% was owned and 53% was purchased.
SPS’ renewable energy portfolio includes wind and solar power from PPAs. As of Dec. 31, 2018, SPS was in compliance with its applicable RPS. Renewable percentages will vary year over year based on local weather, system demand and transmission constraints.
Renewable energy as a percentage of SPS’ total:
Wind — SPS has 18 PPAs with facilities ranging from under one MW to 250 MW.
SPS had approximately 1,565 MW and 1,500 MW of wind energy on its system at the end of 2018 and 2017, respectively.
Average cost per MWh of wind energy under the IPP contracts and QF tariffs were approximately $26 and $27 for 2018 and 2017, respectively.
In 2018, SPS began construction on the Sagamore and Hale County wind farms. Refer to the SPS Public Utility Regulation (Wind Development) section for further information.
Delivered cost per MMBtu of each significant category of fuel consumed for owned electric generation and the percentage of total fuel requirements represented by each category of fuel:
Weighted average cost per MMBtu of all fuels for owned electric generation were $2.13 in 2018 and $2.50 in 2017.
See Items 1A and 7 for further information.
Coal — Inventory maintained (in days):
Dec. 31, 2018 Actual
Dec. 31, 2017 Actual (a)
35 - 50
Milder weather, purchase commitments and low power and natural gas prices impacted coal inventory levels.
Coal requirements were 5.1 million tons in 2018 and 5.5 million tons in 2017. Coal supply as a percentage of requirements for 2019 is 4.1 million tons or 64% of contracted coal supply. The general coal purchasing objective is to contract for approximately 75% of year one requirements, 40% of year two requirements and 20% of year three requirements.
Contracted coal transportation as a percentage of requirements in 2019 and 2020 is 100%.
Natural Gas — Natural gas supplies, transportation and storage services for power plants are procured to provide an adequate supply of fuel. Remaining requirements are procured through a liquid spot market. Generally, natural gas supply contracts have variable pricing that is tied to natural gas indices. Natural gas supply and transportation agreements include obligations for the purchase and/or delivery of specified volumes or payments in lieu of delivery.
Contracts and commitments at Dec. 31:
(Millions of Dollars)
Gas Transportation and Storage (a)
Year of Expiration
One year or less
2019 - 2033
For incremental supplies, there are limited on-site fuel storage facilities, with a primary reliance on the spot market.
Capacity and Demand
Uninterrupted system peak demand for SPS for the last two years, is as follows:
System Peak Demand (in MW)
The peak demand typically occurs in the summer. The increase in peak load from 2017 to 2018 is partly due to warmer weather in 2018.
Summary of Regulatory Agencies and Areas of Jurisdiction — The PUCT and NMPRC regulate SPS’ retail electric operations and have jurisdiction over its retail rates and services and the construction of transmission or generation in their respective states. The municipalities in which SPS operates in Texas have original jurisdiction over SPS’ rates in those communities. The municipalities’ rate setting decisions are subject to PUCT review, which has ultimate authority to set the rates SPS charges in the municipalities.
SPS is regulated by the FERC for its wholesale electric operations, accounting practices, wholesale sales for resale, the transmission of electricity in interstate commerce, compliance with NERC electric reliability standards, asset transactions and mergers and natural gas transactions in interstate commerce. SPS is a transmission-owning member of the SPP RTO and operates within the SPP RTO and SPP IM wholesale market. SPS is authorized to make wholesale electric sales at market-based prices.
Fuel, Purchased Energy and Conservation Cost-Recovery
DCRF — Recovers distribution costs not included in rates in Texas.
EECRF — Recovers costs for energy efficiency programs in Texas.
EE rider — Recovers costs for energy efficiency programs in New Mexico.
FPPCAC — Adjusts monthly to recover the actual fuel and purchased power costs in New Mexico.
PCRF — Recovers purchased power costs not included in rates in Texas.
RPS — Recovers deferred costs for renewable energy programs in New Mexico.
TCRF — Recovers certain transmission infrastructure improvement costs and changes in wholesale transmission charges not included in base rates in Texas.
The fixed fuel and purchased energy recovery factor provides for the over- or under-recovery of energy expenses. Regulations require refunding or surcharging over- or under- recovery amounts, including interest, when they exceed 4% of the utility’s annual fuel and purchased energy costs on a rolling 12-month basis, if this condition is expected to continue.
SPS recovers fuel and purchased energy costs from its wholesale customers through a monthly wholesale fuel and purchased energy cost adjustment clause accepted by the FERC. Wholesale customers also pay the jurisdictional allocation of production costs.
Energy Sources and Transmission Service Providers
SPS expects to use electric generating stations, power purchases, DSM and new generation options to meet its system capacity requirements. In addition, it has evaluated water supply issues at the Tolk facility, concluding additional resource investment will be required to operate the plant through its existing life. The Ogallala aquifer has depleted more rapidly than expected. SPS installed a horizontal water well that may help delay the need for a more substantial investment solution. As a result of this issue and future environmental rules facing the plant, it sought a decrease to the remaining life of the facility in the 2017 Texas and New Mexico rate case proceedings.
Purchased Power — SPS purchases power from other utilities and IPPs. Long-term purchased power contracts typically require periodic capacity and energy charges.
SPS also makes short-term purchases to meet system load and energy requirements to replace owned generation, meet operating reserve obligations or obtain energy at a lower cost.
Purchased Transmission Services — SPS has contractual arrangements with SPP and regional transmission service providers to deliver power and energy to its native load customers.
Wind Development — In 2018, the NMPRC and PUCT approved SPS’ proposal to add 1,230 MW of new wind generation, including ownership of 1,000 MW.
In March 2018, the NMPRC approved SPS’ petition to build and own Sagamore, a 522 MW wind project in New Mexico which is expected to be placed into service in 2020. In May 2018, the PUCT approved SPS’ petition to build and own Hale County, a 478 MW wind project in Texas which is expected to be placed into service in 2019. Both projects qualify for 100% of PTCs. SPS’ capital investment for these wind projects is expected to be approximately $1.6 billion.
Texas State ROFR Request for Declaratory Order — In 2017, SPS and SPP filed a joint petition with the PUCT for a declaratory order regarding SPS’ ROFR. SPS contended that Texas law grants an incumbent electric utility the ROFR to construct new transmission facilities located in the utility’s service area. The PUCT subsequently issued an order finding that SPS does not possess an exclusive right to construct and operate transmission facilities. In January 2018, SPS and two other parties filed appeals in the Texas State District Court. In September 2018, the District Court affirmed the PUCT’s ROFR order. SPS has filed an additional appeal.
Natural Gas Facilities Used for Electric Generation
SPS does not provide retail natural gas service, but purchases and transports natural gas for certain of its generation facilities and operates natural gas pipeline facilities connecting the generation facilities to interstate natural gas pipelines. SPS is subject to the jurisdiction of the FERC with respect to natural gas transactions in interstate commerce, and to the jurisdiction of the PHMSA and the PUCT for pipeline safety compliance.
Wholesale and Commodity Marketing Operations
SPS conducts various wholesale marketing operations, including the purchase and sale of electric capacity, energy, ancillary services and energy related products. SPS uses physical and financial instruments to minimize commodity price and credit risk and hedge sales and purchases. See Item 7 for further information.
Demand for electric power is affected by seasonal differences in the weather. In general, peak sales of electricity occur in the summer months. As a result, the overall operating results may fluctuate substantially on a seasonal basis. Additionally, SPS’ operations have historically generated less revenues and income when weather conditions are milder in the winter and cooler in the summer.
See Item 7 for further information.
SPS is a vertically integrated utility subject to traditional cost-of-service regulation by state public utilities commissions. SPS is subject to public policies that promote competition and development of energy markets. SPS’ industrial and large commercial customers have the ability to generate their own electricity. In addition, customers may have the option of substituting other fuels or relocating their facilities to a lower cost region.
Customers have the opportunity to supply their own power with distributed generation including, but not limited to, solar generation and in most jurisdictions can currently avoid paying for most of the fixed production, transmission and distribution costs incurred to serve them. Several states, including Texas and New Mexico, have policies designed to promote the development of solar and other distributed energy resources through incentive policies. With these incentives and federal tax subsidies, distributed generating resources are potential competitors to SPS’ electric service business.
The FERC has continued to promote competitive wholesale markets through open access transmission and other means. As a result, SPS can purchase generation resources from competing wholesale suppliers and use the transmission systems of Xcel Energy Inc.’s utility subsidiaries on a comparable basis to serve their native load.
FERC Order No. 1000 seeks to establish competition for construction and operation of certain new electric transmission facilities. State utilities commissions have also created resource planning programs that promote competition for electricity generation resources used to provide service to retail customers.
SPS has franchise agreements with cities subject to periodic renewal, however, a city could seek alternative means to access electric power or gas, such as municipalization.
While facing these challenges, SPS believes its rates and services are competitive with alternatives currently available.
SPS’ facilities are regulated by federal and state environmental agencies that have jurisdiction over air emissions, water quality, wastewater discharges, solid wastes and hazardous substances. Various company activities require registrations, permits, licenses, inspections and approvals from these agencies. SPS has received all necessary authorizations for the construction and continued operation of its generation, transmission and distribution systems. SPS’ facilities have been designed and constructed to operate in compliance with applicable environmental standards and related monitoring and reporting requirements. However, it is not possible to determine when or to what extent additional facilities or modifications of existing or planned facilities will be required as a result of changes to environmental regulations, interpretations or enforcement policies or what effect future laws or regulations may have upon SPS’ operations. SPS may be required to incur capital expenditures in the future to comply with requirements for remediation of MGP and other legacy sites. The scope and timing of these expenditures cannot be determined until more information is obtained regarding the need for remediation at legacy sites.
SPS must comply with emissions budgets that require the purchase of emission allowances from other utilities.
There are significant present and future environmental regulations to encourage use of clean energy technologies and regulate emissions of GHGs. SPS has undertaken numerous initiatives to meet current requirements and prepare for potential future regulations, reduce GHG emissions and respond to state renewable and energy efficiency goals. If future environmental regulations do not provide credit for the investments SPS has already made or if they require additional initiatives or emission reductions, substantial costs may be incurred. The EPA, as an alternative to the CPP, has proposed a new regulation that, if adopted, would require implementation of heat rate improvement projects at our coal-fired power plants. It is not known what those costs might be until a final rule is adopted and state plans are developed to implement a final regulation.
SPS believes, based on prior state commission practice, the cost of these initiatives or replacement generation would be recoverable through rates.
SPS is committed to addressing climate change and potential climate change regulation through efforts to reduce its GHG emissions in a balanced, cost-effective manner. Starting in 2011, SPS began reporting GHG emissions under the EPA’s mandatory GHG Reporting Program.
As of Dec. 31, 2018, SPS had 1,151 full-time employees and no part-time employees, of which 775 were covered under collective-bargaining agreements.
Item 1A — Risk Factors
Xcel Energy, which includes SPS, is subject to a variety of risks, many of which are beyond our control. Risks that may adversely affect the business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows are described below. These risks should be carefully considered together with the other information set forth in this report and future reports that Xcel Energy files with the SEC.
Oversight of Risk and Related Processes
A key accountability of the Board of Directors is the oversight of material risk, and our Board of Directors employs an effective process for doing so. Management and the Board of Directors have responsibility for overseeing the identification and mitigation of key risks.
Management identifies and analyzes risks to determine materiality and other attributes such as timing, probability and controllability. Identification and analysis occurs formally through a key risk assessment process by senior management, the financial disclosure process, hazard risk management procedures and internal auditing and compliance with financial and operational controls. Management also identifies and analyzes risk through its business planning process and development of goals and key performance indicators, which include risk identification to determine barriers to implementing SPS’ strategy. The business planning process also identifies areas in which there is a potential for a business area to assume inappropriate risk to meet goals, and determines how to prevent inappropriate risk-taking.
At a threshold level, SPS has a robust compliance program and promotes a culture of compliance, including tone at the top. The process for risk mitigation includes adherence to our code of conduct and compliance policies, operation of formal risk management structures and overall business management to mitigate the risks inherent in the implementation of strategy. Building on this culture of compliance, management further mitigates risks through formal risk management structures, including management councils, risk committees and services of corporate areas such as internal audit, corporate controller and legal.
Management communicates regularly with the Board of Directors and key stakeholders regarding risk. Senior management presents and communicates a periodic risk assessment to the Board of Directors. The presentation and the discussion of the key risks provides information on the risks management believes are material, including the earnings impact, timing, likelihood and controllability. Oversight of cybersecurity risks by the Operations, Nuclear, Environmental and Safety Committee includes receiving independent outside assessments of cybersecurity maturity and assessment of plans.
Overall, the Board of Directors approaches oversight, management and mitigation of risk as an integral and continuous part of its governance of SPS. Processes are in place to ensure appropriate risk oversight, as well as identification and consideration of new risks. The Board of Directors regularly reviews management’s key risk assessment informed by these processes, and analyzes areas of existing and future risks and opportunities.
Our electric transmission and distribution and gas operations involve numerous risks that may result in accidents and other operating risks and costs.
Our natural gas transmission and distribution activities include inherent hazards and operating risks, such as leaks, explosions, outages and mechanical problems. Our electric transmission and distribution activities also include inherent hazards and operating risks such as contact, fire and outages which could cause substantial financial losses. These natural gas and electric risks could result in loss of life, significant property damage, environmental pollution, impairment of our operations and substantial losses. We maintain insurance against some, but not all, of these risks and losses. The occurrence of these events, if not fully covered by insurance, could have a material effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Additionally, for natural gas costs that may be required in order to comply with potential new regulations, including the Pipeline Safety Act, could be significant. The Pipeline Safety Act requires verification of pipeline infrastructure records by pipeline owners and operators to confirm the maximum allowable operating pressure of lines located in high consequence areas or more-densely populated areas. We have programs in place to comply with the Pipeline Safety Act and for systematic infrastructure monitoring and renewal over time. A significant incident could increase regulatory scrutiny and result in penalties and higher costs of operations.
Our utility operations are subject to long-term planning risks.
Most electric utility investments are planned to be used for decades. Transmission and generation investments typically have long lead times and are planned well in advance of when they are brought in-service subject to long-term resource plans. These plans are based on numerous assumptions such as: sales growth, customer usage, commodity prices, economic activity, costs, regulatory mechanisms, customer behavior, available technology and public policy.
The electric utility sector is undergoing a period of significant change. For example, increases in appliance, lighting and energy efficiency, wider adoption and lower cost of renewable generation and distributed generation, shifts away from coal generation to decrease CO2 emissions and increasing use of natural gas in electric generation driven by lower natural gas prices.
Customer adoption of these technologies and increased energy efficiency could result in excess transmission and generation resources as well as stranded costs if SPS is not able to fully recover the costs and investments. These changes also introduce additional uncertainty into long-term planning which gives rise to a risk that the magnitude and timing of resource additions and growth in customer demand may not coincide, and that the preference for the types of additions may change from planning to execution. In addition, we are subject to longer-term availability of the natural resource inputs such as coal, natural gas, uranium and water to cool our facilities. Lack of availability of these resources could jeopardize long-term operations of our facilities or make them uneconomic to operate.
Changing customer expectations and technologies are requiring significant investments in advanced grid infrastructure. This increases the exposure to potential outdating of technologies and resultant risks. The inability of coal mining companies to attract capital could disrupt longer-term supplies. Decreasing use per customer driven by appliance and lighting efficiency and the availability of cost-effective distributed generation places downward pressure on sales growth. This may lead to under recovery of costs, excess resources to meet customer demand and increases in electric rates.
Finally, multiple states may not agree as to the appropriate resource mix and the differing views may lead to costs incurred to comply with one jurisdiction that are not recoverable across all of the jurisdictions served by the same assets.
We are subject to commodity risks and other risks associated with energy markets and energy production.
If fuel costs increase, customer demand could decline and bad debt expense may rise, which could have a material impact on our results of operations. While we have fuel clause recovery mechanisms, higher fuel costs could significantly impact our results of operations if costs are not recovered. Delays in the timing of the collection of fuel cost recoveries could impact our cash flows. Low fuel costs have a positive impact on sales, however low oil and natural gas prices could negatively impact oil and gas production activities and subsequently our sales volumes and revenue.
A significant disruption in supply could cause us to seek alternative supply services at potentially higher costs or suffer increased liability for unfulfilled contractual obligations. Significantly higher energy or fuel costs relative to sales commitments have a negative impact on our cash flows and potentially result in economic losses. Potential market supply shortages may not be fully resolved through alternative supply sources and could cause disruptions in our ability to provide electric services to our customers. Failure to provide service due to disruptions may also result in fines, penalties or cost disallowances through the regulatory process.
We also engage in wholesale sales and purchases of electric capacity, energy and energy-related products as well as natural gas. In many markets, emission allowances and/or RECs are also needed to comply with various statutes and commission rulings. As a result we are subject to market supply and commodity price risk. Commodity price changes can affect the value of our commodity trading derivatives. We mark certain derivatives to estimated fair market value on a daily basis. Actual settlements can vary significantly from estimated fair values recorded and significant changes from the assumptions underlying our fair value estimates could cause earnings variability.
As we are a subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc. we may be negatively affected by events impacting the credit or liquidity of Xcel Energy Inc. and its affiliates.
If Xcel Energy Inc. were to become obligated to make payments under various guarantees and bond indemnities or to fund its other contingent liabilities, or if either Standard & Poor’s or Moody’s were to downgrade Xcel Energy Inc.’s credit rating below investment grade, Xcel Energy Inc. may be required to provide credit enhancements in the form of cash collateral, letters of credit or other security to satisfy part or potentially all of these exposures.
If either Standard & Poor’s or Moody’s were to downgrade Xcel Energy Inc.’s debt securities below investment grade, it would increase Xcel Energy Inc.’s cost of capital and restrict its access to the capital markets. This could limit Xcel Energy Inc.’s ability to contribute equity or make loans to us, or may cause Xcel Energy Inc. to seek additional or accelerated funding from us in the form of dividends. If such event were to occur, we may need to seek alternative sources of funds to meet our cash needs.
As of Dec. 31, 2018, Xcel Energy Inc. and its utility subsidiaries had approximately $15.8 billion of long-term debt and $1.4 billion of short-term debt and current maturities. Xcel Energy Inc. provides various guarantees and bond indemnities supporting some of its subsidiaries by guaranteeing the payment or performance by these subsidiaries for specified agreements or transactions.
Xcel Energy also has other contingent liabilities resulting from various tax disputes and other matters. Xcel Energy Inc.’s exposure under the guarantees is based upon the net liability of the relevant subsidiary under the specified agreements or transactions. The majority of Xcel Energy Inc.’s guarantees limit its exposure to a maximum amount that is stated in the guarantees. As of Dec. 31, 2018, Xcel Energy had guarantees outstanding with a maximum stated amount of approximately $17.8 million and immaterial exposure. Xcel Energy also had additional guarantees of $51 million at Dec. 31, 2018 for performance and payment of surety bonds for the benefit of itself and its subsidiaries, with total exposure that cannot be estimated at this time. If Xcel Energy Inc. were to become obligated to make payments under these guarantees and bond indemnities or become obligated to fund other contingent liabilities, it could limit Xcel Energy Inc.’s ability to contribute equity or make loans to us, or may cause Xcel Energy Inc. to seek additional or accelerated funding from us in the form of dividends. If such event were to occur, we may need to seek alternative sources of funds to meet our cash needs.
We are a wholly owned subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc. Xcel Energy Inc. can exercise substantial control over our dividend policy and business and operations and may exercise that control in a manner that may be perceived to be adverse to our interests.
All of the members of our Board of Directors, as well as many of our executive officers, are officers of Xcel Energy Inc. Our Board makes determinations with respect to a number of significant corporate events, including the payment of our dividends.
We have historically paid quarterly dividends to Xcel Energy Inc. In 2018, 2017 and 2016 we paid $131.0 million, $108.8 million and $85.1 million of dividends to Xcel Energy Inc., respectively. If Xcel Energy Inc.’s cash requirements increase, our Board of Directors could decide to increase the dividends we pay to Xcel Energy Inc. to help support Xcel Energy Inc.’s cash needs. This could adversely affect our liquidity. The most restrictive dividend limitation for SPS is imposed by its state regulatory commissions. State regulatory commissions indirectly limit the amount of dividends that SPS can pay Xcel Energy Inc., by requiring a minimum equity-to-total capitalization ratio. See Note 5 to the financial statements for further information.
Our profitability depends on our ability to recover costs from our customers and changes in regulation may impair our ability to recover costs from our customers.
We are subject to comprehensive regulation by federal and state utility regulatory agencies, including siting and construction of facilities, customer service and the rates that we can charge customers.
The profitability of our operations is dependent on our ability to recover the costs of providing energy and utility services and earn a return on our capital investment. Our rates are generally regulated and based on an analysis of our costs incurred in a test year. We are subject to both future and historical test years depending upon the regulatory jurisdiction. Thus, the rates we are allowed to charge may or may not match our costs at any given time. Rate regulation is premised on providing an opportunity to earn a reasonable rate of return on invested capital. In a continued low interest rate environment there has been pressure pushing down ROE. There can also be no assurance that our regulatory commissions will judge all of our costs to be prudent, which could result in disallowances, or that the regulatory process will always result in rates that will produce full recovery.
Changes in the long-term cost-effectiveness or changes to the operating conditions of our assets may result in early retirements of utility facilities and while regulation typically provides relief for these types of changes, there is no assurance that regulators would allow full recovery of all remaining costs leaving all or a portion of these asset costs stranded. Higher than expected inflation or tariffs may increase costs of construction and operations. Rising fuel costs could increase the risk that we will not be able to fully recover our fuel costs from our customers. Furthermore, there could be changes in the regulatory environment that would impair our ability to recover costs historically collected from our customers, or these factors could cause us to exceed commitments made regarding cost caps and result in less than full recovery. Overall, management currently believes prudently incurred costs are recoverable given the existing regulatory mechanisms in place.
Adverse regulatory rulings or the imposition of additional regulations could have an adverse impact on our results of operations and materially affect our ability to meet our financial obligations, including debt payments.
Any reductions in our credit ratings could increase our financing costs and the cost of maintaining certain contractual relationships.
We cannot be assured that our current ratings will remain in effect, or that a rating will not be lowered or withdrawn by a rating agency. Significant events including a disallowance of costs, significantly lower returns on equity or equity ratios or impacts of tax policy changes may impact our cash flows and credit metrics, potentially resulting in a change in our credit ratings. In addition, our credit ratings may change as a result of the differing methodologies or change in the methodologies used by the various rating agencies. Any downgrade could lead to higher borrowing costs and could impact our ability to access capital markets. Also, we may enter into contracts that require the posting of collateral or settlement of applicable contracts if credit ratings fall below investment grade.
We are subject to capital market and interest rate risks.
Utility operations require significant capital investment. As a result, we frequently need to access capital markets. Any disruption in capital markets could have a material impact on our ability to fund our operations. Capital markets are global and impacted by issues and events throughout the world. Capital market disruption events, and financial market distress could prevent us from issuing short-term commercial paper, issuing new securities or cause us to issue securities with unfavorable terms and conditions, such as higher interest rates.
Higher interest rates on short-term borrowings with variable interest rates could also have an adverse effect on our operating results. Changes in interest rates may also impact the fair value of the debt securities in the pension funds, as well as our ability to earn a return on short-term investments of excess cash.
We are subject to credit risks.
Credit risk includes the risk that our customers will not pay their bills, which may lead to a reduction in liquidity and an increase in bad debt expense. Credit risk is comprised of numerous factors including the price of products and services provided, the overall economy and local economies in the geographic areas we serve, including local unemployment rates.
Credit risk also includes the risk that various counterparties that owe us money or product will become insolvent and/or breach their obligations. Should the counterparties fail to perform, we may be forced to enter into alternative arrangements. In that event, our financial results could be adversely affected and incur losses.
We may at times have direct credit exposure in our short-term wholesale and commodity trading activity to financial institutions trading for their own accounts or issuing collateral support on behalf of other counterparties. We may also have some indirect credit exposure due to participation in organized markets, such as SPP, PJM Interconnection, LLC, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. and Electric Reliability Council of Texas, in which any credit losses are socialized to all market participants.
We have additional indirect credit exposures to financial institutions in the form of letters of credit provided as security by power suppliers under various purchased power contracts. If any of the credit ratings of the letter of credit issuers were to drop below investment grade, the supplier would need to replace that security with an acceptable substitute. If the security were not replaced, the party could be in default under the contract.
Increasing costs of our defined benefit retirement plans and employee benefits may adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.
We have defined benefit pension and postretirement plans that cover most of our employees. Assumptions related to future costs, return on investments, interest rates and other actuarial assumptions have a significant impact on our funding requirements related to these plans. Estimates and assumptions may change. In addition, the Pension Protection Act changed the minimum funding requirements for defined benefit pension plans. Therefore, our funding requirements and related contributions may change in the future. Also, the payout of a significant percentage of pension plan liabilities in a single year due to high retirements or employees leaving SPS could trigger settlement accounting and could require SPS to recognize incremental pension expense related to unrecognized plan losses in the year liabilities are paid.
Increasing costs associated with health care plans may adversely affect our results of operations, financial conditions or cash flows.
Our self-insured costs of health care benefits for eligible employees have increased in recent years. Increasing levels of large individual health care claims and overall health care claims could have an adverse impact on our operating results, financial condition and cash flows. Changes in industry standards utilized in key assumptions (e.g., mortality tables) could have a significant impact on future liabilities and benefit costs. Legislation related to health care could also significantly change our benefit programs and costs.
Federal tax law may significantly impact our business.
SPS collects through regulated rates estimated federal, state and local tax payments. Changes to federal tax law may benefit or adversely affect our earnings and customer costs. Changes to tax depreciable lives and the value of various tax credits may change the economics of resources and our resource selections. There could be timing delays before regulated rates provide for realization of the tax changes in revenues. In addition, certain IRS tax policies such as the requirement to utilize normalization may impact our ability to economically deliver certain types of resources relative to market prices.
Economic conditions impact our business.
Our operations are affected by local, national and worldwide economic conditions. Growth in customers and sales are correlated with economic conditions.
Economic conditions may be impacted by insufficient financial sector liquidity leading to potential increased unemployment, which may impact customers’ ability to pay timely, increase customer bankruptcies and may lead to additional bad debt expense.
Further, worldwide economic activity impacts the demand for basic commodities necessary for utility infrastructure, which may impact our ability to acquire sufficient supplies. We operate in a capital intensive industry and federal policy on trade could significantly impact the cost of materials we use. We could be at risk for higher costs for materials and our workforce. There may be delays before these additional costs can be recovered in rates.
Our operations could be impacted by war, acts of terrorism, and threats of terrorism or disruptions due to events.
Our generation plants, fuel storage facilities, transmission and distribution facilities and information and control systems may be targets of terrorist activities. Any disruption could impact operations or result in a decrease in revenues and additional costs to repair and insure our assets. These disruptions could have a material impact on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. The potential for terrorism has subjected our operations to increased risks and could have a material effect on our business. We have already incurred increased costs for security and capital expenditures in response to these risks.
The insurance industry has also been affected by these events and the availability of insurance may decrease. In addition, insurance may have higher deductibles, higher premiums and more restrictive policy terms.
A disruption of the regional electric transmission grid, interstate natural gas pipeline infrastructure or other fuel sources, could negatively impact our business, our brand and reputation. Because our facilities are part of an interconnected system, we face the risk of possible loss of business due to a disruption caused by the actions of a neighboring utility or an event (e.g., severe storm, severe temperature extremes, wildfires, generator or transmission facility outage, pipeline rupture, railroad disruption, operator error, sudden and significant increase or decrease in wind generation or a disruption of work force) within our operating systems or on a neighboring system. Any such disruption could result in a significant decrease in revenues and significant additional costs to repair assets, which could have a material impact on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.
A cyber incident or security breach could have a material effect on our business.
We operate in an industry that requires the continued operation of sophisticated information technology, control systems and network infrastructure. In addition, we use our systems and infrastructure to create, collect, use, disclose, store, dispose of and otherwise process sensitive information, including company data, customer energy usage data and personal information regarding customers, employees and their dependents, contractors and other individuals.
Our generation, transmission, distribution and fuel storage facilities, information technology systems and other infrastructure or physical assets, as well as information processed in our systems (e.g., information regarding our customers, employees, operations, infrastructure and assets) could be affected by cyber security incidents, including those caused by human error.
Our industry has begun to see an increased volume and sophistication of cyber security incidents from international activist organizations, Nation States and individuals. Cyber security incidents could harm our businesses by limiting our generating, transmitting and distributing capabilities, delaying our development and construction of new facilities or capital improvement projects to existing facilities, disrupting our customer operations causing the release of customer information, all of which could expose us to liability.
Our generation, transmission systems and natural gas pipelines are part of an interconnected system. Therefore, a disruption caused by the impact of a cyber security incident of the regional electric transmission grid, natural gas pipeline infrastructure or other fuel sources of our third party service providers’ operations, could also negatively impact our business.
Our supply chain for procurement of digital equipment may expose software or hardware to these risks and could result in a breach or significant costs of remediation. In addition, such an event would likely receive federal and state regulatory scrutiny. We are unable to quantify the potential impact of cyber security threats or subsequent related actions. These potential cyber security incidents and regulatory action could result in a material decrease in revenues and may cause significant additional costs (e.g., penalties, third party claims, repairs, insurance or compliance) and potentially disrupt our supply and markets for natural gas, oil and other fuels.
We maintain security measures to protect our information technology and control systems, network infrastructure and other assets. However, these assets and the information they process may be vulnerable to cyber security incidents, including the resulting disability, or failures of assets or unauthorized access to assets or information. If our technology systems or those of our third-party service providers were to fail or be breached, we may be unable to fulfill critical business functions. We are unable to quantify the potential impact of cyber security incidents on our business, our brand and our reputation. The cyber security threat is dynamic and evolves continually, and our efforts to prioritize network monitoring may not be effective given the constant changes to threat vulnerability.
Our operating results may fluctuate on a seasonal and quarterly basis and can be adversely affected by milder weather.
Our electric utility business is seasonal, and weather patterns can have a material impact on our operating performance. Demand for electricity is often greater in the summer and winter months associated with cooling and heating. Accordingly, our operations have historically generated less revenues and income when weather conditions are milder in the winter and cooler in the summer. Unusually mild winters and summers could have an adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations, or cash flows.
Our operations use third party contractors in addition to employees to perform periodic and on-going work.
We rely on third party contractors to perform work both for operations, maintenance and construction. We have contractual arrangements with these contractors which typically include performance standards, progress payments, insurance requirements and security for performance.
Cyber security breaches have at times exploited third party equipment or software in order to gain access. Poor vendor performance could impact on going operations, restoration operations, our reputation and could introduce financial risk or risks of fines.
Public Policy Risks
We may be subject to legislative and regulatory responses to climate change, with which compliance could be difficult and costly.
Legislative and regulatory responses related to climate change and new interpretations of existing laws create financial risk as our facilities may be subject to additional regulation at either the state or federal level in the future. Such regulations could impose substantial costs on our system.
We may be subject to climate change lawsuits. An adverse outcome could require substantial capital expenditures and could possibly require payment of substantial penalties or damages. Defense costs associated with such litigation can also be significant.
Such payments or expenditures could affect results of operations, financial condition or cash flows if such costs are not recovered through regulated rates.
Although the United States has not adopted any international or federal GHG emission reduction targets, many states and localities may continue to pursue climate policies in the absence of federal mandates. All of the steps that Xcel Energy has taken to date to reduce GHG emissions, including energy efficiency measures, adding renewable generation or retiring or converting coal plants to natural gas, occurred under state-endorsed resource plans, renewable energy standards and other state policies. While those actions likely would have put Xcel Energy in a good position to meet federal or international standards being discussed, the lack of federal action does not adversely impact these state-endorsed actions and plans.
If our regulators do not allow us to recover all or a part of the cost of capital investment or the O&M costs incurred to comply with the mandates, it could have a material effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.
Increased risks of regulatory penalties could negatively impact our business.
The Energy Act increased civil penalty authority for violation of FERC statutes, rules and orders. The FERC can impose penalties of up to $1.3 million per violation per day, particularly as it relates to energy trading activities for both electricity and natural gas. In addition, NERC electric reliability standards and critical infrastructure protection requirements are mandatory and subject to potential financial penalties. Additionally, the PHMSA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other federal agencies have penalty authority. In the event of serious incidents, these agencies have become more active in pursuing penalties. Some states have the authority to impose substantial penalties. If a serious reliability or safety incident did occur, it could have a material effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.
We are subject to environmental laws and regulations, with which compliance could be difficult and costly.
We are subject to environmental laws and regulations that affect many aspects of our operations, including air emissions, water quality, wastewater discharges and the generation, transport and disposal of solid wastes and hazardous substances. Laws and regulations require us to obtain permits, licenses, and approvals and to comply with a variety of environmental requirements. Environmental laws and regulations can also require us to restrict or limit the output of facilities or the use of certain fuels, shift generation to lower-emitting, install pollution control equipment, clean up spills and other contamination and correct environmental hazards. Environmental regulations may also lead to shutdown of existing facilities. Failure to meet requirements of environmental mandates may result in fines or penalties. We may be required to pay all or a portion of the cost to remediate (i.e., clean-up) sites where our past activities, or the activities of other parties, caused environmental contamination.
We are subject to mandates to provide customers with clean energy, renewable energy and energy conservation offerings. It could have a material effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows if our regulators do not allow us to recover the cost of capital investment or the O&M costs incurred to comply with the requirements.
In addition, existing environmental laws or regulations may be revised, and new laws or regulations may be adopted. We may also incur additional unanticipated obligations or liabilities under existing environmental laws and regulations.
We are subject to physical and financial risks associated with climate change and other weather, natural disaster and resource depletion impacts.
Climate change can create physical and financial risk. Physical risks include changes in weather conditions and extreme weather events.
Our customers’ energy needs vary with weather. To the extent weather conditions are affected by climate change, customers’ energy use could increase or decrease. Increased energy use due to weather changes may require us to invest in generating assets, transmission and infrastructure. Decreased energy use due to weather changes may result in decreased revenues. Extreme weather conditions in general require system backup, costs and can contribute to increased system stress, including service interruptions. Extreme weather conditions creating high energy demand may raise electricity prices, increasing the cost of energy we provide to our customers.
Severe weather impacts our service territories, primarily when thunderstorms, flooding, tornadoes, wildfires and snow or ice storms occur. To the extent the frequency of extreme weather events increases, this could increase our cost of providing service. Periods of extreme temperatures could impact our ability to meet demand. Changes in precipitation resulting in droughts or water shortages could adversely affect our operations. Drought conditions also contribute to the increase in wildfire risk from our electric generation facilities. While we carry liability insurance, given an extreme event, if SPS was found to be liable for wildfire damages, amounts that potentially exceed our coverage could negatively impact our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows. Drought or water depletion could adversely impact our ability to provide electricity to customers and increase the price paid for energy. We may not recover all costs related to mitigating these physical and financial risks.
Climate change may impact a region’s economy, which could impact our sales and revenues. The price of energy has an impact on the economic health of our communities. The cost of additional regulatory requirements, such as regulation of GHG, could impact the availability of goods and prices charged by our suppliers which would normally be borne by consumers through higher prices for energy and purchased goods. To the extent financial markets view climate change and emissions of GHGs as a financial risk, this could negatively affect our ability to access capital markets or cause us to receive less than ideal terms and conditions.
Item 1B — Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2 — Properties
Virtually all of the utility plant property of SPS is subject to the lien of its first mortgage bond indenture.
Station, Location and Unit
Cunningham-Hobbs, NM, 2 Units
1957 - 1965
Harrington-Amarillo, TX, 3 Units
1976 - 1980
Jones-Lubbock, TX, 2 Units
1971 - 1974
Maddox-Hobbs, NM, 1 Unit
Nichols-Amarillo, TX, 3 Units
1960 - 1968
Plant X-Earth, TX, 4 Units
1952 - 1964
Tolk-Muleshoe, TX, 2 Units
1982 - 1985
Cunningham-Hobbs, NM, 2 Units
Jones-Lubbock, TX, 2 Units
2011 - 2013
Maddox-Hobbs, NM, 1 Unit
1963 - 1976
Summer 2018 net dependable capacity.
Electric utility overhead and underground transmission and distribution lines (measured in conductor miles) at Dec. 31, 2018:
Less than 115 KV
SPS had 459 electric utility transmission and distribution substations at Dec. 31, 2018.
Natural gas utility mains at Dec. 31, 2018:
Item 3 — Legal Proceedings
SPS is involved in various litigation matters that are being defended and handled in the ordinary course of business. Assessment of whether a loss is probable or is a reasonable possibility, and whether a loss or a range of loss is estimable, often involves a series of complex judgments regarding future events. Management maintains accruals for losses that are probable of being incurred and subject to reasonable estimation. Management may be unable to estimate an amount or range of a reasonably possible loss in certain situations, including but not limited to when (1) damages sought are indeterminate, (2) proceedings are in the early stages or (3) matters involve novel or unsettled legal theories. In such cases, there is considerable uncertainty regarding the timing or ultimate resolution of such matters, including a possible eventual loss.
See Note 10 to the financial statements, Item 1 and Item 7 for further information.
Item 5 — Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
SPS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc. and there is no market for its common equity securities. See Note 5 to the financial statements for further information.
The dividends declared during 2018 and 2017 were as follows:
(Millions of Dollars)
Item 6 — Selected Financial Data
This is omitted per conditions set forth in general instructions I(1)(a) and (b) of Form 10-K for wholly owned subsidiaries (reduced disclosure format).
Item 7 — Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Discussion of financial condition and liquidity for SPS is omitted per conditions set forth in general instructions I(1)(a) and (b) of Form 10-K for wholly owned subsidiaries. It is replaced with management’s narrative analysis and the results of operations for the current year as set forth in general instructions I(2)(a) of Form 10-K for wholly owned subsidiaries (reduced disclosure format).
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
The following discussion includes financial information prepared in accordance with GAAP, as well as certain non-GAAP financial measures such as, electric margin and ongoing earnings. Generally, a non-GAAP financial measure is a measure of a company’s financial performance, financial position or cash flows that excludes (or includes) amounts that are adjusted from measures calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP. SPS’ management uses non-GAAP measures for financial planning and analysis, for reporting of results to the Board of Directors, in determining performance-based compensation, and communicating its earnings outlook to analysts and investors. Non-GAAP financial measures are intended to supplement investors’ understanding of our performance and should not be considered alternatives for financial measures presented in accordance with GAAP. These measures are discussed in more detail below and may not be comparable to other companies’ similarly titled non-GAAP financial measures.
Electric margin is presented as electric revenues less electric fuel and purchased power expenses. Expenses incurred for electric fuel and purchased power are generally recovered through various regulatory recovery mechanisms. As a result, changes in these expenses are generally offset in operating revenues. Management believes electric margins provide the most meaningful basis for evaluating our operations because they exclude the revenue impact of fluctuations in these expenses. These margins can be reconciled to operating income, a GAAP measure, by including other operating revenues, cost of sales - other, O&M expenses, conservation and DSM expenses, depreciation and amortization and taxes (other than income taxes).
Earnings Adjusted for Certain Items (Ongoing Earnings)
Ongoing earnings reflect adjustments to GAAP earnings (net income) for certain items. Management uses these non-GAAP financial measures to evaluate and provide details of SPS’ core earnings and underlying performance.
Management believes these measurements are useful to investors to evaluate the actual and projected financial performance and contribution of SPS.
Results of Operations
SPS’ net income was approximately $213.3 million for 2018, compared with net income of approximately $159.2 million for 2017. The increase was primarily due to higher electric margins reflecting favorable weather and sales growth and a rate increase in New Mexico, AFUDC related to the Hale County wind project and lower interest charges. Increases were partially offset by higher depreciation expense.
Electric fuel and purchased power expenses tend to vary with changing retail and wholesale sales requirements and unit cost changes in fuel and purchased power. Changes in fuel or purchased power costs can impact earnings as the fuel and purchased power cost recovery mechanisms of the Texas and New Mexico jurisdictions may not allow for complete recovery of all expenses. Electric revenues and margin before and after the impact of the TCJA:
(Millions of Dollars)
Electric revenues before TCJA impact
Electric fuel and purchased power before TCJA impact
Electric margin before TCJA impact
TCJA impact (offset as a reduction in income tax)
The following tables summarize the components of the changes in electric margin for the year ended Dec. 31, 2018:
(Millions of Dollars)
2018 vs. 2017
Wholesale transmission revenue (net of costs)
Estimated impact of weather
Retail rate increase (New Mexico)
Total increase in electric margin before TCJA impact
TCJA impact (offset as a reduction in income tax)
Total increase in electric margin
Non-Fuel Operating Expense and Other Items
Depreciation and Amortization — Depreciation and amortization expense increased $15.7 million, or 8.1%, for 2018. The increase was primarily due to increased capital investments.
AFUDC, Equity and Debt — AFUDC increased by $13.3 million for 2018. The increase was primarily due to the Hale County Wind Project.
Income Taxes — Income tax expense decreased $29.5 million for 2018 compared with the same period in 2017. The decrease in income tax expense was primarily due to a lower federal tax rate due to the TCJA, an increase in plant-related regulatory difference related to ARAM (net of deferrals), and 2018 non-plant excess accumulated deferred income tax amortization.
This was partially offset by higher pretax earnings, a net tax benefit related to the resolution of appeals/audits in 2017, and the estimated one-time, non-cash, income tax expense related to the impacts of tax reform in 2017. The ETR was 15.4% for 2018 compared with 30.1% for 2017. The lower ETR in 2018 was primarily due to the adjustments referenced above.
FERC and State Regulation — The FERC has jurisdiction over rates for electric transmission service in interstate commerce and electricity sold at wholesale, asset transactions and mergers, accounting practices and certain other activities of SPS, including enforcement of NERC mandatory electric reliability standards. State and local agencies have jurisdiction over many of SPS’ activities, including regulation of retail rates and environmental matters.
Xcel Energy, which includes SPS, attempts to mitigate the risk of regulatory penalties through formal training on prohibited practices and a compliance function that reviews interaction with the markets under FERC and Commodity Futures Trading Commission jurisdictions. Public campaigns are conducted to raise awareness of the public safety issues of interacting with our electric systems.
While programs to comply with regulatory requirements are in place, there is no guarantee the compliance programs or other measures will be sufficient to ensure against violations. Decisions by these regulators can significantly impact SPS’ results of operations.
Tax Reform — Regulatory Proceedings
In December 2017, the TCJA was signed into law, enacting significant changes to the Internal Revenue Code, including a reduction of the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21% and a resulting reduction in deferred tax assets and liabilities. As a result of IRS requirements and past regulatory treatment of income taxes in the determination of regulated rates, the impacts of TCJA are primarily recognized as a regulatory liability. Treatment of these tax benefits, (e.g., degree to which benefits will be used to refund currently effective rates and/or used to mitigate other costs and potential future rate increases) is subject to regulatory approval. Concluded and ongoing regulatory TCJA proceedings:
Texas — In December 2018, the PUCT approved a rate settlement which fully reflects the TCJA cost impacts and results in no change in customer rates or refunds and SPS’ actual capital structure, which SPS has informed the parties it intends to be up to a 57% equity ratio to offset the negative impacts on its credit metrics and potentially its credit ratings.
New Mexico — In September 2018, the NMPRC issued its final order in SPS’ 2017 electric rate case, which included a $10 million refund of the 2018 impact of the TCJA. SPS subsequently filed an appeal with the NMSC, including the order to refund retroactive TCJA savings. The NMSC granted a temporary stay to delay the implementation of the retroactive TCJA refund until a decision on the appeal occurs.
On Feb. 15, 2019, SPS and the NMPRC filed a Joint Motion to Dismiss with the NMSC, requesting they remand the case back to the NMPRC to provide them the opportunity to revise its rate case order in accordance with the motion. This would require the NMPRC to replace the order issued in September 2018 and eliminate the retroactive TCJA refund. The revised NMPRC order would be subject to further administrative or judicial review.
See Note 7 to the financial statements for further information.
Pending and Recently Concluded Regulatory Proceedings
Amount Requested (in millions)
In 2017, SPS filed a retail electric, non-fuel base rate increase case in Texas, which included an ROE of 9.5%. In December 2018, PUCT issued a final order approving a settlement, which results in no overall change to SPS’ revenues after adjusting for the impact of the TCJA and the lower costs of long-term debt.
In November 2018, SPS filed an application with PUCT requesting permission to recover $5.4 million in unbilled TCRF revenue from January 23, 2018 through June 9, 2018. Timing of a final order on this matter is uncertain.
In 2017, SPS filed a notice of appeal to the New Mexico Supreme Court. A decision is not expected until the second half of 2019.
In September 2018, the NMPRC approved a revenue increase of approximately $8 million, effective Sept. 27, 2018, based on a ROE of 9.1% and a 51% equity ratio. The NMPRC also ordered a refund of $10 million associated with the TCJA impacts (retroactive Jan. 1, 2018 - Sept. 27, 2018). SPS recorded a regulatory liability for this amount in the third quarter of 2018. SPS subsequently filed an appeal of the order. The NMSC subsequently granted a temporary stay to delay the implementation of the retroactive TCJA refund until a decision on the appeal occurs.
On Feb. 15, 2019, SPS and the NMPRC filed a Joint Motion to Dismiss with the NMSC, requesting they remand the case back to the NMPRC to provide them the opportunity to revise its rate case order in accordance with the motion. This would require the NMPRC to replace the order issued in September 2018 with the following: eliminating the retroactive refund associated with the TCJA, approving a ROE of 9.56% and approving an equity ratio of 53.97%. Annual revenue increase based on terms of the settlement agreement would be $12.5 million ($8 million from original order plus $4.5 million for changes in ROE and equity ratio). New rates would be effective as of the date provided by the revised NMPRC order (not retrospective to Sept. 26, 2018), which is expected in the second quarter of 2019. The revised NMPRC order would be subject to further administrative or judicial review.
See Rate Matters within Note 10 to the financial statements for further information.
Item 7A — Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Derivatives, Risk Management and Market Risk
SPS is exposed to a variety of market risks in the normal course of business. Market risk is the potential loss that may occur as a result of adverse changes in the market or fair value of a particular instrument or commodity. All financial and commodity-related instruments, including derivatives, are subject to market risk.
See Note 8 to the financial statements for further information.
SPS is exposed to the impact of adverse changes in price for energy and energy-related products, which is partially mitigated by the use of commodity derivatives. In addition to ongoing monitoring and maintaining credit policies intended to minimize overall credit risk, management takes steps to mitigate changes in credit and concentration risks associated with its derivatives and other contracts, including parental guarantees and requests of collateral. While SPS expects that the counterparties will perform under the contracts underlying its derivatives, the contracts expose SPS to some credit and non-performance risk.
Distress in the financial markets may impact counterparty risk, the fair value of the securities in the pension fund, and SPS’ ability to earn a return on short-term investments.
Commodity Price Risk — SPS is exposed to commodity price risk in its electric operations. Commodity price risk is managed by entering into long- and short-term physical purchase and sales contracts for electric capacity, energy and energy-related products. Commodity price risk is also managed through the use of financial derivative instruments.
SPS’ risk management policy allows it to manage commodity price risk per commission approved hedge plans.
Wholesale and Commodity Trading Risk — SPS conducts wholesale and commodity trading activities, including the purchase and sale of electric capacity, energy and energy-related instruments, including derivatives. SPS’ risk management policy allows management to conduct these activities within guidelines and limitations as approved by its risk management committee.
Interest Rate Risk — SPS is subject to interest rate risk. SPS’ risk management policy allows interest rate risk to be managed through the use of fixed rate debt, floating rate debt and interest rate derivatives such as swaps, caps, collars and put or call options.
A 100-basis-point change in the benchmark rate on SPS’ variable rate debt would impact annual pretax interest expense by approximately $0.4 million in 2018 and no impact in 2017.
See Note 8 to the financial statements for further information.
Credit Risk — SPS is also exposed to credit risk. Credit risk relates to the risk of loss resulting from counterparties’ nonperformance on their contractual obligations. SPS maintains credit policies intended to minimize overall credit risk and actively monitors these policies to reflect changes and scope of operations.
At Dec. 31, 2018, a 10% increase in commodity prices would have resulted in an increase in credit exposure of $1.5 million, while a decrease in prices of 10% would have resulted in a decrease in credit exposure of $1.5 million. At Dec. 31, 2017, a 10% increase in commodity prices would have resulted in an increase in credit exposure of $1.3 million, while a decrease in prices of 10% would have resulted in a decrease in credit exposure of $1.3 million.
SPS conducts credit reviews for all counterparties and employ credit risk controls, such as letters of credit, parental guarantees, master netting agreements and termination provisions. Credit exposure is monitored and, when necessary, the activity with a specific counterparty is limited until credit enhancement is provided. Distress in the financial markets could increase SPS’ credit risk.
Fair Value Measurements
SPS uses derivative contracts such as futures, forwards, interest rate swaps, options and FTRs to manage commodity price and interest rate risk. Derivative contracts, with the exception of those designated as normal purchase-normal sale contracts, are reported at fair value. SPS’ investments held in rabbi trusts, pension and other postretirement funds are also subject to fair value accounting.
Commodity Derivatives — SPS continuously monitors the creditworthiness of the counterparties to its commodity derivative contracts and assesses each counterparty’s ability to perform on the transactions. Given the typically short duration of these contracts, the impact of discounting commodity derivative assets for counterparty credit risk was not material to the fair value of commodity derivative assets at Dec. 31, 2018.
Adjustments to fair value for credit risk of commodity trading instruments are recorded in electric revenues. Credit risk adjustments for other commodity derivative instruments are recorded as other comprehensive income or deferred as regulatory assets and liabilities. Classification as a regulatory asset or liability is based on commission approved regulatory recovery mechanisms. The impact of discounting commodity derivative liabilities for credit risk was immaterial at Dec. 31, 2018.
Item 8 — Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
See 15-1 for an index of financial statements included herein.
See Note 13 to the financial statements for further information.
Management Report on Internal Controls Over Financial Reporting
The management of SPS is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting. SPS’ internal control system was designed to provide reasonable assurance to Xcel Energy Inc.’s and SPS’ management and board of directors regarding the preparation and fair presentation of published financial statements.
All internal control systems, no matter how well designed, have inherent limitations. Therefore, even those systems determined to be effective can provide only reasonable assurance with respect to financial statement preparation and presentation.
SPS management assessed the effectiveness of SPS’ internal control over financial reporting as of Dec. 31, 2018. In making this assessment, it used the criteria set forth by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) in Internal Control — Integrated Framework (2013). Based on our assessment, we believe that, as of Dec. 31, 2018, SPS’ internal control over financial reporting is effective at the reasonable assurance level based on those criteria.
REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM
To the Board of Directors and Stockholder of
Southwestern Public Service Company
Opinion on the Financial Statements
We have audited the accompanying balance sheets of Southwestern Public Service Company (the "Company") as of December 31, 2018 and 2017, the related statements of income, comprehensive income, cash flows and, common stockholder's equity for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2018, and the related notes and the schedule listed in the Index at Item 15 (collectively referred to as the "financial statements"). In our opinion, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as of December 31, 2018 and 2017, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2018, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.
Basis for Opinion
These financial statements are the responsibility of the Company's management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company's financial statements based on our audits. We are a public accounting firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (PCAOB) and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.
We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud. The Company is not required to have, nor were we engaged to perform, an audit of its internal control over financial reporting. As part of our audits, we are required to obtain an understanding of internal control over financial reporting but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting. Accordingly, we express no such opinion.
Our audits included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. Our audits also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.
/s/ DELOITTE & TOUCHE LLP
February 22, 2019
We have served as the Company’s auditor since 2002.
General — SPS is engaged in the regulated generation, purchase, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity.
SPS’ financial statements and disclosures are presented in accordance with GAAP. All of SPS’ underlying accounting records also conform to the FERC uniform system of accounts or to systems required by various state regulatory commissions.
SPS has evaluated the impact of events occurring after Dec. 31, 2018 up to the date of issuance of these financial statements. These statements contain all necessary adjustments and disclosures resulting from that evaluation.
Use of Estimates — SPS uses estimates based on the best information available in recording transactions and balances resulting from business operations. Estimates are used on items such as plant depreciable lives or potential disallowances, AROs, certain regulatory assets and liabilities, tax provisions, uncollectible amounts, environmental costs, unbilled revenues, jurisdictional fuel and energy cost allocations and actuarially determined benefit costs. Recorded estimates are revised when better information becomes available or when actual amounts can be determined. Those revisions can affect operating results.
Regulatory Accounting — SPS accounts for income and expense items in accordance with accounting guidance for regulated operations. Under this guidance:
Certain costs, which would otherwise be charged to expense or other comprehensive income, are deferred as regulatory assets based on the expected ability to recover the costs in future rates; and
Certain credits, which would otherwise be reflected as income or other comprehensive income, are deferred as regulatory liabilities based on the expectation the amounts will be returned to customers in future rates, or because the amounts were collected in rates prior to the costs being incurred.
Estimates of recovering deferred costs and returning deferred credits are based on specific ratemaking decisions or precedent for each item. Regulatory assets and liabilities are amortized consistent with the treatment in the rate setting process.
If changes in the regulatory environment occur, SPS may no longer be eligible to apply this accounting treatment, and may be required to eliminate regulatory assets and liabilities from its balance sheet. Such changes could have a material effect on SPS’ results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.
See Note 4 for further information.
Income Taxes — SPS accounts for income taxes using the asset and liability method, which requires deferred tax assets and liabilities for the expected future tax consequences of events that have been included in the financial statements. SPS defers income taxes for all temporary differences between pretax financial and taxable income, and between the book and tax bases of assets and liabilities. SPS uses the tax rates that are scheduled to be in effect when the temporary differences are expected to reverse. The effect of a change in tax rates on deferred tax assets and liabilities is recognized in the period that includes the enactment date.
The effects of SPS’ tax rate changes are generally subject to a normalization method of accounting. Therefore, the revaluation of most its net deferred taxes upon a tax rate reduction results in the establishment of a net regulatory liability which will be refundable to utility customers over the remaining life of the related assets. A tax rate increase would result in the establishment of a similar regulatory asset.
Tax credits are recorded when earned unless there is a requirement to defer the benefit and amortize it over the book depreciable lives of the related property. The requirement to defer and amortize tax credits only applies to federal ITCs related to public utility property. Utility rate regulation also has resulted in the recognition of regulatory assets and liabilities related to income taxes.
Deferred tax assets are reduced by a valuation allowance if it is more likely than not that some portion or all of the deferred tax asset will not be realized.
SPS follows the applicable accounting guidance to measure and disclose uncertain tax positions that it has taken or expects to take in its income tax returns. SPS recognizes a tax position in its financial statements when it is more likely than not that the position will be sustained upon examination based on the technical merits of the position.
Recognition of changes in uncertain tax positions are reflected as a component of income tax.
SPS reports interest and penalties related to income taxes within the other income and interest charges in the statements of income.
Xcel Energy Inc. and its subsidiaries, including SPS, files consolidated federal income tax returns as well as consolidated or separate state income tax returns. Federal income taxes paid by Xcel Energy Inc. are allocated to its subsidiaries based on separate company computations. A similar allocation is made for state income taxes paid by Xcel Energy Inc. in connection with consolidated state filings. Xcel Energy Inc. also allocates its own income tax benefits to its direct subsidiaries.
See Notes 4 and 7 for further information.
Property, Plant and Equipment and Depreciation — Property, plant and equipment is stated at original cost. The cost of plant includes direct labor and materials, contracted work, overhead costs and AFUDC. The cost of plant retired is charged to accumulated depreciation and amortization. Amounts recovered in rates for future removal costs are recorded as regulatory liabilities. Significant additions or improvements extending asset lives are capitalized, while repairs and maintenance costs are charged to expense as incurred. Maintenance and replacement of items determined to be less than a unit of property are charged to operating expenses as incurred. Planned maintenance activities are charged to operating expense unless the cost represents the acquisition of an additional unit of property or the replacement of an existing unit of property.
Property, plant and equipment is tested for impairment when it is determined that the carrying value of the assets may not be recoverable. A loss is recognized in the current period if it becomes probable that part of a cost of a plant under construction or recently completed plant will be disallowed for recovery from customers and a reasonable estimate of the disallowance can be made. For investments in property, plant and equipment that are abandoned and not expected to go into service, incurred costs and related deferred tax amounts are compared to the discounted estimated future rate recovery, and a loss is recognized, if necessary.
SPS records depreciation expense using the straight-line method over the plant’s useful life. Actuarial life studies are performed and submitted to the state and federal commissions for review. Upon acceptance by the various commissions, the resulting lives and net salvage rates are used to calculate depreciation. Depreciation expense, expressed as a percentage of average depreciable property, was 2.9% in 2018, 2.8% in 2017, and 2.7% in 2016.
See Note 3 for further information.
AROs — SPS accounts for AROs under accounting guidance that requires a liability for the fair value of an ARO to be recognized in the period in which it is incurred if it can be reasonably estimated, with the offsetting associated asset retirement costs capitalized as a long-lived asset. The liability is generally increased over time by applying the effective interest method of accretion, and the capitalized costs are depreciated over the useful life of the long-lived asset. Changes resulting from revisions to the timing or amount of expected asset retirement cash flows are recognized as an increase or a decrease in the ARO. SPS also recovers through rates certain future plant removal costs in addition to AROs. The accumulated removal costs for these obligations are reflected in the balance sheets as a regulatory liability.
See Note 10 for further information.
Benefit Plans and Other Postretirement Benefits — SPS maintains pension and postretirement benefit plans for eligible employees. Recognizing the cost of providing benefits and measuring the projected benefit obligation of these plans requires management to make various assumptions and estimates.
Certain unrecognized actuarial gains and losses and unrecognized prior service costs or credits are deferred as regulatory assets and liabilities, rather than recorded as other comprehensive income, based on regulatory recovery mechanisms.
See Note 9 for further information.
Environmental Costs — Environmental costs are recorded when it is probable SPS is liable for remediation costs and the liability can be reasonably estimated. Costs are deferred as a regulatory asset if it is probable that the costs will be recovered from customers in future rates. Otherwise, the costs are expensed. If an environmental expense is related to facilities currently in use, such as emission-control equipment, the cost is capitalized and depreciated over the life of the plant.
Estimated remediation costs are regularly adjusted as estimates are revised and remediation proceeds. If other participating PRPs exist and acknowledge their potential involvement with a site, costs are estimated and recorded only for SPS’ expected share of the cost.
Future costs of restoring sites are treated as a capitalized cost of plant retirement. The depreciation expense levels recoverable in rates include a provision for removal expenses. Removal costs recovered in rates before the related costs are incurred are classified as a regulatory liability.
See Note 10 for further information.
Revenue From Contracts With Customers — Performance obligations related to the sale of energy are satisfied as energy is delivered to customers. SPS recognizes revenue that corresponds to the price of the energy delivered to the customer. The measurement of energy sales to customers is generally based on the reading of their meters, which occurs on a systematic basis throughout the month. At the end of each month, amounts of energy delivered to customers since the date of the last meter reading are estimated, and the corresponding unbilled revenue is recognized.
SPS does not recognize a separate financing component of its collections from customers as contract terms are short-term in nature. SPS presents its revenues net of any excise or sales taxes or fees.
SPS participates in SPP. SPS recognizes sales to both native load and other end use customers on a gross basis in electric revenues and cost of sales. Revenues and charges for short term wholesale sales of excess energy transacted through RTOs are also recorded on a gross basis. Other revenues and charges related to participating and transacting in RTOs are recorded on a net basis in cost of sales.
See Note 6 for further information.
Cash and Cash Equivalents — SPS considers investments in instruments with a remaining maturity of three months or less at the time of purchase, to be cash equivalents.
Accounts Receivable and Allowance for Bad Debts — Accounts receivable are stated at the actual billed amount net of an allowance for bad debts. SPS establishes an allowance for uncollectible receivables based on a policy that reflects its expected exposure to the credit risk of customers. As of Dec. 31, 2018 and 2017, the allowance for bad debts was $5.6 million and $6.3 million, respectively.
Inventory — Inventory is recorded at average cost. As of Dec. 31, 2018, materials and supplies and fuel inventory were $25.7 million and $8.2 million, respectively. As of Dec. 31, 2017, materials and supplies and fuel inventory were $26.2 million and $14.2 million, respectively.
Fair Value Measurements — SPS presents cash equivalents, interest rate derivatives and commodity derivatives at estimated fair values in its financial statements. Cash equivalents are recorded at cost plus accrued interest; money market funds are measured using quoted NAVs. For interest rate derivatives, quoted prices based primarily on observable market interest rate curves are used to establish fair value. For commodity derivatives, the most observable inputs available are generally used to determine the fair value of each contract. In the absence of a quoted price, SPS may use quoted prices for similar contracts or internally prepared valuation models to determine fair value. For the pension and postretirement plan assets published trading data and pricing models, generally using the most observable inputs available, are utilized to estimate fair value for each security.
See Notes 8 and 9 for further information.
Derivative Instruments — SPS uses derivative instruments in connection with its utility commodity price and interest rate activities, including forward contracts, futures, swaps and options. Any derivative instruments qualifying for the normal purchases and normal sales exception are recorded on the balance sheets at fair value as derivative instruments. Classification of changes in fair value for those derivative instruments is dependent on the designation of a qualifying hedging relationship. Changes in fair value of derivative instruments not designated in a qualifying hedging relationship are reflected in current earnings or as a regulatory asset or liability. Classification as a regulatory asset or liability is based on expected recovery of derivative instrument settlements through fuel and purchased energy cost recovery mechanisms. Interest rate hedging transactions are recorded as a component of interest expense.
Normal Purchases and Normal Sales — SPS enters into contracts for purchases and sales of commodities for use in its operations. At inception, contracts are evaluated to determine whether a derivative exists and/or whether an instrument may be exempted from derivative accounting if designated as a normal purchase or normal sale.
AFUDC — AFUDC represents the cost of capital used to finance utility construction activity. AFUDC is computed by applying a composite financing rate to qualified CWIP. The amount of AFUDC capitalized as a utility construction cost is credited to other nonoperating income (for equity capital) and interest charges (for debt capital). AFUDC amounts capitalized are included in SPS’ rate base for establishing utility rates.
Alternative Revenue — Certain rate rider mechanisms (including DSM programs) qualify as alternative revenue programs under GAAP. These mechanisms arise from costs imposed upon the utility by action of a regulator or legislative body related to an environmental, public safety or other mandate. When certain criteria are met, such as collection within 24 months, revenue is recognized equal to the revenue requirement, which may include incentives and return on rate base items. Billing amounts are revised periodically for differences between the total amount collected and the revenue earned, which may increase or decrease the level of revenue collected from customers. Alternative revenues arising from these programs are presented on a gross basis and disclosed separately from revenue from contracts with customers in the period earned.
See Note 6 for further information.
Conservation Programs — SPS has implemented programs in its jurisdictions to assist customers in conserving energy and reducing peak demand on the electric system. These programs include commercial motor, air conditioner and lighting upgrades, as well as residential rebates for participation in air conditioner interruption and home weatherization.
The costs incurred for some DSM programs are deferred as permitted by the applicable regulatory jurisdiction. For those programs, costs are deferred if it is probable future revenue will be provided to permit recovery of the incurred cost. Revenues recognized for incentive programs designed for recovery of lost margins and/or conservation performance incentives are limited to amounts expected to be collected within 24 months from the annual period in which they are earned. SPS recovers approved conservation program costs in base rate revenue or through a rider.
Emission Allowances — Emission allowances are recorded at cost plus broker commission fees. The inventory accounting model is utilized for all emission allowances and sales of these allowances are included in electric revenues.
RECs — Cost of RECs that are utilized for compliance purposes is recorded as electric fuel and purchased power expense. SPS reduces recoverable fuel costs for the cost of RECs and records that cost as a regulatory asset when the amount is recoverable in future rates.
Sales of RECs are recorded in electric revenues on a gross basis. The cost of these RECs and amounts credited to customers under margin-sharing mechanisms are recorded in electric fuel and purchased power expense.
Segment Information — SPS has only one reportable segment. SPS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc. and operates in the regulated electric utility industry providing wholesale and retail electric service in the states of Texas and New Mexico. Operating results from the regulated electric utility segment serve as the primary basis for the chief operating decision maker to evaluate the performance of SPS.
Leases — In 2016, the FASB issued Leases, Topic 842 (ASU No. 2016-02), which requires balance sheet recognition of right-of-use assets and lease liabilities for most leases. Adoption will occur on Jan. 1, 2019 utilizing the package of transition practical expedients provided by the new standard, including carrying forward prior conclusions of whether agreements existing before the adoption date contain leases, and whether existing leases are operating or capital/finance leases. SPS expects to utilize other expedients offered by the new standard and Leases, Topic 842 (ASU No. 2018-11), including elections to not recognize short term leases on the balance sheet for certain classes of assets and to implement the standard on a prospective basis. SPS’ implementation of the new guidance is substantially complete, and is expected to result in the recognition of right-of-use assets and lease liabilities in the first quarter of 2019 for operating leases for the use of real estate, equipment and certain natural gas generating facilities operated under PPAs. The implementation is not expected to have a significant impact on SPS’ financial statements, other than first-time recognition of these operating leases on the balance sheet.
Revenue Recognition — In 2014, the FASB issued Revenue from Contracts with Customers, Topic 606 (ASU No. 2014-09), which provides a new framework for the recognition of revenue. SPS implemented the guidance on a modified retrospective basis on Jan. 1, 2018. Results for reporting periods beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 are presented in accordance with Topic 606, while prior period results have not been adjusted and continue to be reported in accordance with prior accounting guidance. The implementation did not have a material impact on SPS’ financial statements, other than increased disclosures regarding revenues related to contracts with customers.
Classification and Measurement of Financial Instruments — In 2016, the FASB issued Recognition and Measurement of Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities, Subtopic 825-10 (ASU No. 2016-01), which eliminated the available-for-sale classification for marketable equity securities and also replaced the cost method of accounting for non-marketable equity securities with a model for recognizing impairments and observable price changes. SPS implemented the guidance on Jan. 1, 2018 and the adoption impacts were not material.
Presentation of Net Periodic Benefit Cost — In 2017, the FASB issued Improving the Presentation of Net Periodic Pension Cost and Net Periodic Postretirement Benefit Cost, Topic 715 (ASU No. 2017-07), which establishes that only the service cost portion of pension cost may be presented as a component of operating income. In addition, only the service cost portion of pension cost is eligible for capitalization. As a result of regulatory accounting treatment, a similar amount of pension cost, including non-service components, will be recognized consistent with historical ratemaking and the impacts of adoption are limited to changes in classification of non-service costs in the statement of income.
SPS implemented the new guidance on Jan. 1, 2018. As a result, $4.1 million and $4.0 million of pension costs were retrospectively reclassified from operating and maintenance expenses to other expense, net on the income statement for 2017 and 2016, respectively. SPS used benefit cost amounts disclosed for prior periods as the basis for retrospective application.
Regulatory assets and liabilities are created for amounts that regulators may allow to be collected, or may require to be paid back to customers in future electric rates. SPS would be required to recognize the write-off of regulatory assets and liabilities in net income or other comprehensive income if changes in the utility industry no longer allow for the application of regulatory accounting guidance under GAAP.
Components of regulatory assets:
(Millions of Dollars)
Remaining Amortization Period
Dec. 31, 2018
Dec. 31, 2017
Pension and retiree medical obligations
Excess deferred taxes - TCJA
Recoverable deferred taxes on AFUDC recorded in plant
Net AROs (a)
Losses on reacquired debt
Term of related debt
Conservation programs (b)
One to two years
Total regulatory assets
Includes amounts recorded for future recovery of AROs.
Includes costs for conservation programs, as well as incentives allowed in certain jurisdictions.
Components of regulatory liabilities:
(Millions of Dollars)
Remaining Amortization Period
Dec. 31, 2018
Dec. 31, 2017
Deferred income tax adjustments and TCJA refunds (a)
Plant removal costs
Revenue subject to refund
One to two years
Gain from asset sales
Deferred electric energy costs
Less than one year
Contract valuation adjustments (b)
Less than one year
Total regulatory liabilities
Includes the revaluation of recoverable/regulated plant ADIT and revaluation impact of non-plant ADIT due to the TCJA.
Includes the fair value of certain long-term PPAs used to meet energy capacity requirements.
At Dec. 31, 2018 and 2017, approximately $48 million and $64 million, respectively, of SPS’ regulatory assets represented past expenditures not earning a return. Amounts primarily related to formula rates, losses on reacquired debt and certain rate case expenditures.
Money Pool — Xcel Energy Inc. and its utility subsidiaries have established a money pool arrangement that allows for short-term investments in and borrowings between the utility subsidiaries. Xcel Energy Inc. may make investments in the utility subsidiaries at market-based interest rates; however, the money pool arrangement does not allow the utility subsidiaries to make investments in Xcel Energy Inc.
Money pool borrowings for SPS were as follows:
Three Months Ended Dec. 31, 2018
Year Ended Dec. 31
(Amounts in Millions, Except Interest Rates)
Amount outstanding at period end
Average amount outstanding
Maximum amount outstanding
Weighted average interest rate, computed on a daily basis
Weighted average interest rate at end of period
Commercial Paper — SPS meets its short-term liquidity requirements primarily through the issuance of commercial paper and borrowings under its credit facility.
Commercial paper outstanding for SPS was as follows:
Three Months Ended Dec. 31, 2018
Year Ended Dec. 31
(Amounts in Millions, Except Interest Rates)
Amount outstanding at period end
Average amount outstanding
Maximum amount outstanding
Weighted average interest rate, computed on a daily basis
Weighted average interest rate at end of period
Letters of Credit — SPS may use letters of credit, typically with terms of one-year, to provide financial guarantees for certain operating obligations. At Dec. 31, 2018 and 2017, there were $2 million and $3 million of letters of credit outstanding, respectively, under the credit facility. Amounts approximate their fair value.
Credit Facility — In order to use its commercial paper program to fulfill short-term funding needs, SPS must have a revolving credit facility in place at least equal to the amount of its commercial paper borrowing limit and cannot issue commercial paper in an aggregate amount exceeding available capacity under this credit facility.
The line of credit provides short-term financing in the form of notes payable to banks, letters of credit and back-up support for commercial paper borrowings.
Features of SPS’ credit facility:
Debt-to-Total Capitalization Ratio(a)
Amount Facility May Be Increased (millions)
Additional Periods For Which a One-Year Extension May Be Requested (b)
The SPS credit facility has a financial covenant requiring that the debt-to-total capitalization ratio be less than or equal to 65%.
All extension requests are subject to majority bank group approval.
The credit facility has a cross-default provision that SPS will be in default on its borrowings under the facility if SPS or any of its future significant subsidiaries whose total assets exceed 15% of SPS’ total assets default on indebtedness in an aggregate principal amount exceeding $75 million.