SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES
Basis of Presentation
Our consolidated financial statements are prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (“GAAP”).
The preparation of financial statements in accordance with GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses and costs. These estimates are based on management’s knowledge of current events, historical experience and various other assumptions that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances. Accordingly, actual results may be different from these estimates and assumptions.
Certain prior-year amounts have been reclassified to conform to the current-year presentation.
Principles of Consolidation
Our consolidated financial statements include the accounts of UGI Utilities and its subsidiaries (collectively, “we” or “the Company”). We eliminate intercompany accounts when we consolidate.
Effects of Regulation
UGI Utilities accounts for the financial effects of regulation in accordance with the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (“FASB’s”) guidance in Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) 980, “Regulated Operations.” In accordance with this guidance, incurred costs and estimated future expenditures that would otherwise be charged to expense are capitalized and recorded as regulatory assets when it is probable that the incurred costs or estimated future expenditures will be recovered in rates in the future. Similarly, we recognize regulatory liabilities when it is probable that regulators will require customer refunds through future rates or when revenue is collected from customers for expenditures that have not yet been incurred. Regulatory assets and liabilities are classified as current if, upon initial recognition, the entire amount related to that item will be recovered or refunded within a year of the balance sheet date. Generally, regulatory assets and regulatory liabilities are amortized into expense and income over the periods authorized by the regulator. For additional information regarding the effects of rate regulation on our utility operations, see Note 4.
Fair Value Measurements
The Company applies fair value measurements on a recurring and, as otherwise required under GAAP, also on a nonrecurring basis. Fair value measurements performed on a recurring basis principally relate to derivative instruments. Fair value in GAAP is defined as the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability (an exit price) in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date.
GAAP establishes a fair value hierarchy that prioritizes the inputs to valuation techniques used to measure fair value into three levels. The hierarchy gives the highest priority to quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities (level 1 measurements) and the lowest priority to unobservable inputs (level 3 measurements). A level within the fair value hierarchy is based on the lowest level of any input that is significant to the fair value measurement.
We use the following fair value hierarchy, which prioritizes the inputs to valuation techniques used to measure fair value into three broad levels:
Level 1 — Quoted prices (unadjusted) in active markets for identical assets and liabilities that we have the ability to access at the measurement date.
Level 2 — Inputs other than quoted prices included within Level 1 that are either directly or indirectly observable for the asset or liability, including quoted prices for similar assets or liabilities in active markets, quoted prices for identical or similar assets or liabilities in markets that are not active, inputs other than quoted prices that are observable for the asset or liability, and inputs that are derived from observable market data by correlation or other means.
Level 3 — Unobservable inputs for the asset or liability including situations where there is little, if any, market activity for the asset or liability.
Fair value is based upon assumptions that market participants would use when pricing an asset or liability, including assumptions about risk and risks inherent in valuation techniques and inputs to valuations. This includes not only the credit standing of counterparties and credit enhancements but also the impact of our own nonperformance risk on our liabilities. We evaluate the need for credit adjustments to our derivative instrument fair values. These credit adjustments were not material to the fair values of our derivative instruments.
Derivative instruments are reported in the Consolidated Balance Sheets at their fair values, unless the derivative instruments qualify for the normal purchase and normal sale (“NPNS”) exception under GAAP and such exception has been elected. The accounting for changes in fair value depends upon the purpose of the derivative instrument and whether it is subject to regulatory ratemaking mechanisms or is designated and qualifies for hedge accounting.
Gains and losses on substantially all of the derivative instruments used by UGI Utilities (for which NPNS has not been elected) to hedge commodity prices are included in regulatory assets and liabilities in accordance with GAAP regarding accounting for rate-regulated entities. Certain of our derivative instruments are designated and qualify as cash flow hedges. For cash flow hedges, changes in the fair value of the derivative financial instruments are recorded in accumulated other comprehensive income (loss) (“AOCI”), to the extent effective at offsetting changes in the hedged item, until earnings are affected by the hedged item. We discontinue cash flow hedge accounting if the occurrence of the forecasted transaction is determined to be no longer probable. Hedge accounting is also discontinued for derivatives that cease to be highly effective. Certain other commodity derivative financial instruments, although generally effective as hedges, do not qualify for hedge accounting treatment. Changes in the fair values of these derivative instruments are reflected in net income. Cash flows from derivative financial instruments are included in cash flows from operating activities.
For a more detailed description of the derivative instruments we use, our accounting for derivatives, our objectives for using them and other information, see Note 14.
UGI Utilities’ regulated revenues are recognized as natural gas and electricity are delivered and include estimated amounts for distribution service rendered and commodities delivered but not billed at the end of each month. We reflect the impact of Gas Utility and Electric Utility rate increases or decreases at the time they become effective. Nonregulated revenues are recognized as services are performed or products are delivered.
We present revenue-related taxes collected on behalf of customers and remitted to taxing authorities, principally sales and use taxes, on a net basis. Electric Utility gross receipts taxes are included in total revenues in accordance with regulatory practice.
Accounts receivable are reported on the Consolidated Balance Sheets at the gross outstanding amount adjusted for an allowance for doubtful accounts. Accounts receivable that are acquired are initially recorded at fair value on the date of acquisition. Provisions for uncollectible accounts are established based upon our collection experience and the assessment of the collectability of specific amounts. Accounts receivable are written off in the period in which the receivable is deemed uncollectible.
We record deferred income taxes in the Consolidated Statements of Income resulting from the use of accelerated depreciation methods based upon amounts recognized for ratemaking purposes. We also record a deferred tax liability for tax benefits, principally the result of accelerated tax depreciation for state income tax purposes, that are flowed through to ratepayers when temporary differences originate and record a regulatory income tax asset for the probable increase in future revenues that will result when the temporary differences reverse.
We are amortizing deferred investment tax credits related to Utilities’ plant additions over the service lives of the related property. Utilities reduces its deferred income tax liability for the future tax benefits that will occur when the deferred investment tax credits, which are not taxable, are amortized. We also reduce the regulatory income tax asset for the probable reduction in future revenues that will result when such deferred investment tax credits amortize.
We join with UGI and its subsidiaries in filing a consolidated federal income tax return. We are charged or credited for our share of current taxes resulting from the effects of our transactions in the UGI consolidated federal income tax return including giving effect to intercompany transactions. The result of this allocation is consistent with income taxes calculated on a separate return basis. We record interest on tax deficiencies and income tax penalties in income taxes on the Consolidated Statements of Income.
Cash and Cash Equivalents
All highly liquid investments with maturities of three months or less when purchased are classified as cash equivalents.
Restricted cash represents those cash balances in our commodity futures brokerage accounts that are restricted from withdrawal.
Our inventories are stated at the lower of cost or net realizable value. We determine cost using an average cost method for substantially all of our inventory.
Property, Plant and Equipment and Related Depreciation
We record property, plant and equipment at original cost. The amounts assigned to property, plant and equipment of acquired businesses are based upon estimated fair value at date of acquisition.
We record depreciation expense for Utilities’ plant and equipment on a straight-line basis over the estimated average remaining lives of the various classes of its depreciable property. The composite annual rate for depreciable property at our Gas Utility was 2.2% in Fiscal 2016, 2.2% in Fiscal 2015 and 2.3% in Fiscal 2014. The composite annual rate for depreciable property at our Electric Utility was 2.5% in Fiscal 2016, 2.5% in Fiscal 2015 and 2.5% in Fiscal 2014. When Utilities retires depreciable utility plant and equipment, we charge the original cost to accumulated depreciation for financial accounting purposes. Costs incurred to retire utility plant and equipment, net of salvage, are recorded in regulatory assets and amortized over 5 years, consistent with the recovery period approved by the PUC.
We include in property, plant and equipment costs associated with computer software we develop or obtain for use in our businesses. We amortize computer software costs on a straight-line basis over expected periods of benefit not exceeding fifteen years once the installed software is ready for its intended use.
No depreciation expense is included in cost of sales in the Consolidated Statements of Income.
Our goodwill is the result of Gas Utility business acquisitions. We do not amortize goodwill, but test it at least annually for impairment at the reporting unit level. A reporting unit is the operating segment, or a business one level below the operating segment (a component) if discrete financial information is prepared and regularly reviewed by segment management. Components are aggregated as a single reporting unit if they have similar economic characteristics. A reporting unit with goodwill is required to perform an impairment test annually or whenever events or circumstances indicate that the value of goodwill may be impaired. During the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2016, the Company changed the measurement date for performing its annual goodwill impairment test from September 30 to July 31. This voluntary change in accounting principle, applied prospectively, is preferable as it aligns the annual goodwill impairment test date more closely with the Company’s internal budgeting process and did not delay, accelerate or avoid an impairment of the Company’s goodwill.
We are required to recognize an impairment charge under GAAP if the carrying amount of a reporting unit exceeds its fair value and the carrying amount of the reporting unit’s goodwill exceeds the implied fair value of that goodwill. From time to time, we may assess qualitative factors to determine whether it is more likely than not that the fair value of such reporting unit is less than its carrying amount. From time to time, we may bypass the qualitative assessment and perform the first step of the two-step quantitative assessment by comparing the fair values of the reporting units with their carrying amounts, including goodwill. We determine the fair value of our Gas Utility generally based on a weighting of income and market approaches. For purposes of the income approach, fair value is determined based upon the present value of the reporting unit’s estimated future cash flows, including an estimate of the reporting unit’s terminal value based upon these cash flows, discounted at appropriate risk-adjusted rates. We use our internal forecasts to estimate future cash flows which may include estimates of long-term future growth rates based upon our most recent reviews of the long-term outlook for the reporting unit. Cash flow estimates used to establish fair values under our income approach involve management judgments based on a broad range of information and historical results. In addition, external economic and competitive conditions can influence future performance. For purposes of the market approach, we use valuation multiples for companies comparable to our reporting unit. The market approach requires judgment to determine the appropriate valuation multiple. Under certain circumstances, the Company may perform a qualitative approach to determine if it is more likely than not that the carrying value of a reporting unit is greater than its fair value. No provisions for goodwill impairments were recorded during Fiscal 2016, Fiscal 2015 or Fiscal 2014.
Impairment of Long-Lived Assets
We evaluate long-lived assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of such assets may not be recoverable. We evaluate recoverability based upon undiscounted future cash flows expected to be generated by such assets. No provisions for impairments were recorded during Fiscal 2016, Fiscal 2015 or Fiscal 2014.
Employee Retirement Plans
We use a market-related value of plan assets and an expected long-term rate of return to determine the expected return on assets of our pension and other postretirement plans. The market-related value of plan assets, other than equity investments, is based upon fair values. The market-related value of equity investments is calculated by rolling forward the prior-year’s market-related value with contributions, disbursements and the expected return on plan assets. One third of the difference between the expected and the actual value is then added to or subtracted from the expected value to determine the new market-related value (see Note 9).
All of our equity-based compensation, principally comprising UGI stock options and grants of UGI stock-based equity instruments (“Units”), is measured at fair value on the grant date, date of modification or end of the period, as applicable. Compensation expense is recognized on a straight-line basis over the requisite service period. Depending upon the settlement terms of the awards, equity-based compensation costs are measured based upon the fair value of the award on the date of grant or the fair value of the award as of the end of each reporting period. We expect to adopt new accounting guidance that simplifies and clarifies certain aspects of the accounting for and presentation of share-based payments during the first quarter of Fiscal 2017 (see Note 3).
For additional information on our equity-based compensation plans and related disclosures, see Note 11.
We are subject to environmental laws and regulations intended to mitigate or remove the effects of past operations and improve or maintain the quality of the environment. These laws and regulations require the removal or remedy of the effect on the environment of the disposal or release of certain specified hazardous substances at current or former operating sites.
Environmental reserves are accrued when assessments indicate that it is probable that a liability has been incurred and an amount can reasonably be estimated. Amounts recorded as environmental liabilities on the balance sheets represent our best estimate of costs expected to be incurred or, if no best estimate can be made, the minimum liability associated with a range of expected environmental investigation and remediation costs. Our estimated liability for environmental contamination is reduced to reflect anticipated participation of other responsible parties but is not reduced for possible recovery from insurance carriers. In those instances for which the amount and timing of cash payments associated with environmental investigation and cleanup are reliably determinable, we discount such liabilities to reflect the time value of money. We intend to pursue recovery of incurred costs through all appropriate means, including regulatory relief. UGI Gas, CPG and PNG receive ratemaking recognition of environmental investigation and remediation costs associated with their environmental sites. This ratemaking recognition balances the accumulated difference between historical costs and rate recoveries with an estimate of future costs associated with the sites. For further information, see Note 12.