NorthWestern Corp. engages in generating and distributing electricity and natural gas. It operates through the following segments: Electric Utility Operations, Natural Gas Operations, and All Other. The Electric Utility Operations segment includes generation, transmission, and distribution of electric utility business as a vertically integrated generation transmission and distribution utility. The Natural Gas Operations segment comprises production, storage, transmission, and distribution of natural gas. The All Other segment consists of unallocated corporate costs. The company was founded in November 1923 and is headquartered in Sioux Falls, SD.
We are subject to potential unfavorable state and federal regulatory outcomes. To the extent our incurred costs are deemed imprudent by the applicable regulatory commissions or certain regulatory mechanisms are not available, we may not recover some of our costs, which could adversely impact our results of operations and liquidity.
Early closure or unscheduled plant outages of our owned and jointly owned electric generating facilities due to operational or economic factors, environmental risks or litigation could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations and liquidity. We also rely on a limited number of suppliers of coal for our electric generation, making us vulnerable to increased prices for fuel as existing contracts expire or in the event of unanticipated interruptions in fuel supply.
Our electric and natural gas transmission and distribution operations involve numerous activities that may result in accidents, fires, system outages and other operating risks and costs that are unique to our industry.
Cyber and physical attacks, threats of terrorism and catastrophic events that could result from terrorism, or individuals and/or groups attempting to disrupt our business, or the businesses of third parties, may affect our operations in unpredictable ways and could adversely affect our liquidity and results of operations. Failure to maintain the security of personally identifiable information could adversely affect us.
Federally mandated purchases of power from QFs, and integration of power generated from those projects in our system, may increase costs to our customers and decrease system reliability, limit our ability to make generation investments and adversely affect our business.
Our electric and natural gas portfolios rely significantly on market purchases. Prices for electric power and natural gas are often unpredictable as they are subject to market volatility and general market disruption. This exposure adversely affects our ability to manage our operational requirements and costs, which ultimately could adversely affect our results of operations and liquidity.
We are subject to extensive and changing environmental laws and regulations and potential environmental liabilities, which could have a material adverse effect on our liquidity and results of operations.
We are subject to changing federal and state laws and regulations. Congress and state legislatures may enact legislation that adversely affects our operations and financial results.
Weather and weather patterns, including normal seasonal and quarterly fluctuations of weather, as well as extreme weather events that might be associated with climate change, could adversely affect our results of operations and liquidity.
We must meet certain credit quality standards. If we are unable to maintain investment grade credit ratings, our liquidity, access to capital and operations could be materially adversely affected.
Our revenues, results of operations and financial condition are impacted by customer growth and usage in our service territories and may fluctuate with current economic conditions or response to price increases. We are also impacted by market conditions outside of our service territories related to demand for transmission capacity and wholesale electric pricing.
Our plans for future expansion through the acquisition of assets including natural gas reserves, capital improvements to existing assets, generation investments, and transmission grid expansion involve substantial risks.
Poor investment performance of plan assets of our defined benefit pension and postretirement benefit plans, in addition to other factors impacting these costs, could unfavorably impact our results of operations and liquidity.
Our obligation to include a minimum annual quantity of power in our Montana electric supply portfolio at an agreed upon price per MWH could expose us to material commodity price risk if certain QFs under contract with us do not perform during a time of high commodity prices, as we are required to make up the difference. In addition, we are subject to price escalation risk with one of the largest QF contracts.