variable and difficult to predict. Operating results for wind power plants vary significantly from period to period depending on the wind conditions during the periods in question. The electricity produced and the revenues generated by a solar power plant depends heavily on insolation, which is the amount of solar energy received at a site. While somewhat more predictable than wind conditions, operating results for solar power plants can also vary from period to period depending on the solar conditions during the periods in question. We have based our decisions about which sites to develop in part on the findings of long-term wind, irradiance and other meteorological data and studies conducted in the proposed area, which, as applicable, measure the wind’s speed and prevailing direction, the amount of solar irradiance a site is expected to receive and seasonal variations. Actual conditions at these sites, however, may not conform to the measured data in these studies and may be affected by variations in weather patterns, including any potential impact of climate change. Therefore, the electricity generated by our power plants may not meet our anticipated production levels or the rated capacity of the turbines or solar panels located there, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In some quarters the wind resources at our operating wind power plants, while within the range of our long-term estimates, have varied from the averages we expected. If the wind or solar resources at a facility are below the average level we expect, our rate of return for the facility would be below our expectations and we would be adversely affected. Projections of wind resources also rely upon assumptions about turbine placement, interference between turbines and the effects of vegetation, land use and terrain, which involve uncertainty and require us to exercise considerable judgment. Projections of solar resources depend on assumptions about weather patterns (including snow), shading, and other assumptions which involve uncertainty and also require us to exercise considerable judgment. We or our consultants may make mistakes in conducting these wind, irradiance and other meteorological studies. Any of these factors could cause our sites to have less wind or solar potential than we expected and may cause us to pay more for wind and solar power plants in connection with acquisitions than we otherwise would have paid had such mistakes not been made, which could cause the return on our investment in these wind and solar power plants to be lower than expected.
If our wind and solar energy assessments turn out to be wrong, our business could suffer a number of material adverse consequences, including:
our energy production and sales may be significantly lower than we predict;
our hedging arrangements may be ineffective or more costly;
we may not produce sufficient energy to meet our commitments to sell electricity or RECs and, as a result, we may have to buy electricity or RECs on the open market to cover our obligations or pay damages; and
our wind and solar power plants may not generate sufficient cash flow to make payments of principal and interest as they become due on the notes and our non-recourse debt, and we may have difficulty obtaining financing for future wind power plants.
Our failure to achieve and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act could have a material adverse effect on our business and share price.
We are required to comply with Section 404(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the course of preparing our financial statements, and our management is required to report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting for such year. Additionally, our independent registered public accounting firm is required pursuant to Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting on an annual basis. The rules governing the standards that must be met for our management to assess our internal control over financial reporting are complex and require significant documentation, testing and possible remediation.
Internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements in accordance with GAAP. A material weakness is a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the entity’s financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. The existence of any material weakness would require management to devote significant time and incur significant expense to remediate any such material weaknesses and management may not be able to remediate any such material weaknesses in a timely manner.
As of December 31, 2017, we did not maintain an effective control environment attributable to certain identified material weaknesses. We describe these material weaknesses in Item 9A. Controls and Procedures in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. These control deficiencies create a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement to the consolidated financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis, and therefore we concluded that the deficiencies represent material weaknesses in the Company’s internal control over financial reporting and our internal control over financial reporting