evolving, as market participants strive to distinguish themselves within their markets and compete with large incumbent utilities and new market entrants. We believe that our primary competitors are the traditional incumbent utilities that supply energy to our potential customers under highly regulated rate and tariff structures. We compete with these traditional utilities primarily based on price, predictability of price and the ease with which customers can switch to electricity generated by our renewable energy facilities. If we cannot offer compelling value to our customers based on these factors, then our business will not grow. Traditional utilities generally have substantially greater financial, technical, operational and other resources than we do, and as a result may be able to devote more resources to the research, development, promotion and sale of their products or respond more quickly to evolving industry standards and changes in market conditions than we can. Traditional utilities could also offer other value-added products or services that could help them to compete with us even if the cost of electricity they offer is higher than ours. In addition, the source of a majority of traditional utilities’ electricity is non-renewable, which may allow them to sell electricity more cheaply than electricity generated by our solar generation facilities, wind power plants, and other types of clean power generation assets we may acquire.
We also face risks that traditional utilities could change their volumetric-based (i.e., cents per kWh) rate and tariff structures to make distributed solar generation less economically attractive to their retail customers. Currently, net metering programs are utilized in the majority of states to support the growth of distributed generation solar facilities by requiring traditional utilities to reimburse certain of their retail customers for the excess power they generate at the level of the utilities’ retail rates rather than the rates at which those utilities buy power at wholesale. In Arizona, the state has allowed its largest traditional utility, Arizona Public Service, to assess a surcharge on customers with solar generation facilities for their use of the utility’s grid, based on the size of the customer’s solar generation facility. This surcharge will reduce the economic returns for the excess electricity that the solar generation facilities produce. These types of changes or other types of changes that could reduce or eliminate the economic benefits of net metering could be implemented in other states, which could significantly change the economic benefits of solar energy as perceived by traditional utilities’ retail customers.
We also face competition in the energy efficiency evaluation and upgrades market and we expect to face competition in additional markets as we introduce new energy-related products and services. As the solar and wind industries grow and evolve, we will also face new competitors who are not currently in the market. Our failure to adapt to changing market conditions and to compete successfully with existing or new competitors could limit our growth and could have a material adverse effect on our business and prospects.
There are a limited number of purchasers of utility-scale quantities of electricity, which exposes us and our utility-scale facilities to additional risk.
Since the transmission and distribution of electricity is either monopolized or highly concentrated in most jurisdictions, there are a limited number of possible purchasers for utility-scale quantities of electricity in a given geographic location, including transmission grid operators, state and investor-owned power companies, public utility districts and cooperatives. As a result, there is a concentrated pool of potential buyers for electricity generated by our renewable energy facilities, which may restrict our ability to negotiate favorable terms under new PPAs and could impact our ability to find new customers for the electricity generated by our renewable energy facilities should this become necessary. Furthermore, if the financial condition of these utilities and/or power purchasers deteriorated or the RPS programs, climate change programs or other regulations to which they are currently subject and that compel them to source renewable energy supplies change, demand for electricity produced by our utility-scale facilities could be negatively impacted.
Our hedging activities may not adequately manage our exposure to commodity and financial risk, which could result in significant losses or require us to use cash collateral to meet margin requirements, each of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity, which could impair our ability to execute favorable financial hedges in the future.
Certain of our wind power plants are party to financial swaps or other hedging arrangements. We may also acquire additional assets with similar hedging arrangements in the future. Under the terms of the existing financial swaps, certain wind power plants are not obligated to physically deliver or purchase electricity. Instead, they receive payments for specified quantities of electricity based on a fixed-price and are obligated to pay the counterparty the market price for the same quantities of electricity. These financial swaps cover quantities of electricity that we estimated are highly likely to be produced. As a result, gains or losses under the financial swaps are designed to be offset by decreases or increases in a facility’s revenues from spot sales of electricity in liquid markets. However, the actual amount of electricity a facility generates from operations may be materially different from our estimates for a variety of reasons, including variable wind conditions and wind turbine availability. If a wind power plant does not generate the volume of electricity covered by the associated swap contract, we could incur significant losses if electricity prices in the market rise substantially above the fixed-price provided for in the swap. If a wind power plant generates more electricity than is contracted in the swap, the excess production will not be hedged and