Our business is significantly impacted by governmental regulation and oversight.
We face significant costs to comply with existing and future environmental laws and regulations.
We may face significant costs to comply with the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
Changes in federal income tax policy may adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows, as well as our credit ratings.
We may fail to maintain effective internal controls in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
We could be subject to higher costs and penalties as a result of mandatory reliability standards.
Our operations are subject to risks arising from the reliability of our electric generation, transmission, and distribution facilities, natural gas infrastructure facilities, and other facilities, as well as the reliability of third-party transmission providers.
Our operations are subject to various conditions that can result in fluctuations in energy sales to customers, including customer growth and general economic conditions in our service areas, varying weather conditions, and energy conservation efforts.
We are actively involved with several significant capital projects, which are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could adversely affect project costs and completion of construction projects.
Our operations are subject to risks beyond our control, including but not limited to, cyber security intrusions, terrorist attacks, acts of war, or unauthorized access to personally identifiable information.
Advances in technology could make our electric generating facilities less competitive.
We transport and distribute natural gas, which involves numerous risks that may result in accidents and other operating risks and costs.
We may fail to attract and retain an appropriately qualified workforce.
Our counterparties may fail to meet their obligations, including obligations under power purchase, natural gas supply, and transportation agreements.
We may not be able to fully use tax credits, net operating losses, and/or charitable contribution carryforwards.
Our business is dependent on our ability to successfully access capital markets.
A downgrade in our credit ratings could negatively affect our ability to access capital at reasonable costs and/or require the posting of collateral.
Fluctuating commodity prices could negatively impact our electric and natural gas utility operations.
We may not be able to obtain an adequate supply of coal, which could limit our ability to operate our coal-fired facilities.
Our use of derivative contracts could result in financial losses.
Restructuring in the regulated energy industry and competition in the retail and wholesale markets could have a negative impact on our business and revenues.
We may experience poor investment performance of benefit plan holdings due to changes in assumptions and market conditions.
We may be unable to obtain insurance on acceptable terms or at all, and the insurance coverage we do obtain may not provide protection against all significant losses.
Our earnings for the year ended December 31, 2019 were $184.7 million, compared to $172.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. See below for additional information on the $11.9 million increase in earnings.
The discussion below addresses the operating income contribution of our utility segment and includes financial information prepared in accordance with GAAP, as well as electric margins and natural gas margins, which are not measures of financial performance under GAAP. Electric margin (electric revenues less fuel and purchased power costs) and natural gas margin (natural gas revenues less cost of natural gas sold) are non-GAAP financial measures because they exclude other operation and maintenance expense, depreciation and amortization, and property and revenue taxes.
We believe that electric and natural gas margins provide a useful basis for evaluating utility operations since the majority of prudently incurred fuel and purchased power costs, as well as prudently incurred natural gas costs, are passed through to customers in current rates. As a result, management uses electric and natural gas margins internally when assessing the operating performance of our utility segment as these measures exclude the majority of revenue fluctuations caused by changes in these expenses. Similarly, the presentation of electric and natural gas margins herein is intended to provide supplemental information for investors regarding our operating performance.