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SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission file No. 1-13883
CALIFORNIA WATER SERVICE GROUP
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or Other Jurisdiction of
Incorporation or Organization)
1720 North First Street,
San Jose, California
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)
(Registrant's Telephone Number, including Area Code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class:
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered:
Common Stock, $0.01 par value per share
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes o No x
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 of Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes o No x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x No o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232,405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes x No o
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company or emerging growth company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer," "smaller reporting company," and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large accelerated filer x
Accelerated filer o
Non-accelerated filer o
(Do not check if a
smaller reporting company)
Smaller reporting company o
Emerging growth company o
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes o No x
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $1,767 million on June 30, 2017, the last business day of the registrant's most recently completed second fiscal quarter. The valuation is based on the closing price of the registrant's common stock as traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
The Common stock outstanding at February 12, 2018 was 48,011,346 shares.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the definitive proxy statement for the California Water Service Group 2017 Annual Meeting are incorporated by reference into Part III hereof.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Item 1. Business.
This annual report, including all documents incorporated by reference, contains forward-looking statements within the meaning established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements in this annual report are based on currently available information, expectations, estimates, assumptions and projections, and our management's beliefs, assumptions, judgments and expectations about us, the water utility industry and general economic conditions. These statements are not statements of historical fact. When used in our documents, statements that are not historical in nature, including words like "expects," "intends," "plans," "believes," "may," "estimates," "assumes," "anticipates," "projects," "predicts," "forecasts," "should," "seeks," or variations of these words or similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance. They are based on numerous assumptions that we believe are reasonable, but they are open to a wide range of uncertainties and business risks. Consequently, actual results may vary materially from what is contained in a forward-looking statement.
Factors which may cause actual results to be different than those expected or anticipated include, but are not limited to:
governmental and regulatory commissions' decisions, including decisions on proper disposition of property;
consequences of eminent domain actions relating to our water systems;
changes in regulatory commissions' policies and procedures;
the timeliness of regulatory commissions' actions concerning rate relief;
inability to renew leases to operate city water systems on beneficial terms;
changes in California State Water Resources Control Board water quality standards;
changes in environmental compliance and water quality requirements;
electric power interruptions;
housing and customer growth index;
the impact of opposition to rate increases;
our ability to recover costs;
availability of water supplies;
issues with the implementation, maintenance or security of our information technology systems;
civil disturbances or terrorist threats or acts, or apprehension about the possible future occurrences of acts of this type;
labor relations matters as we negotiate with the unions;
restrictive covenants in or changes to the credit ratings on current or future debt that could increase financing costs or affect the ability to borrow, make payments on debt, or pay dividends;
changes in customer water use patterns and the effects of conservation;
the impact of weather, climate, natural disasters, and diseases on water quality, water availability, water sales and operating results;
the risks set forth in "Risk Factors" included elsewhere in this annual report.
In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this annual report or as of the date of any document incorporated by reference in this annual report, as applicable. When considering forward-looking statements, investors should keep in mind the cautionary statements in this annual report and the documents incorporated by reference. We are not under any obligation, and we expressly disclaim any obligation, to update or alter any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
California Water Service Group is a holding company incorporated in Delaware in 1999 with six operating subsidiaries: California Water Service Company (Cal Water), New Mexico Water Service Company (New Mexico Water), Washington Water Service Company (Washington Water), Hawaii Water Service Company, Inc. (Hawaii Water), and CWS Utility Services and HWS Utility Services LLC (CWS Utility Services and HWS Utility Services LLC being referred to collectively in this annual report as Utility Services). Cal Water, New Mexico Water, Washington Water, and Hawaii Water are regulated public utilities. The regulated utility entities also provide some non-regulated services. Utility Services provides non-regulated services to private companies and municipalities. Cal Water was the original operating company and began operations in 1926.
Our business is conducted through our operating subsidiaries and we provide utility services to approximately two million people. The bulk of the business consists of the production, purchase, storage, treatment, testing, distribution and sale of water for domestic, industrial, public and irrigation uses, and for fire protection. We also provide non-regulated water-related services under agreements with municipalities and other private companies. The non-regulated services include full water system operation, billing and meter reading services. Non-regulated operations also include the lease of communication antenna sites, lab services and promotion of other non-regulated services.
During the year ended December 31, 2017, there were no significant changes in the kind of products produced or services rendered by our operating subsidiaries, or in the markets or methods of distribution.
Our mailing address and contact information is:
California Water Service Group
1720 North First Street
San Jose, California 95112-4598
telephone number: 408-367-8200
Annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to these reports are available free of charge through our website. The reports are available on our website as soon as reasonably practicable after such reports are filed with the SEC.
California water operations are conducted by the Cal Water and CWS Utility Services entities, which provide service to approximately 484,900 customer connections in approximately 100 California communities through 20 separate districts, which are subject to regulation by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Cal Water operates two leased water systems, the City of Hawthorne and the City of Commerce, which are governed through their respective city councils and are outside of the CPUC's jurisdiction. California water operations accounted for approximately 94.3% of our total customer connections and approximately 93.9% of our total consolidated operating revenue.
Hawaii Water provides service to approximately 4,500 water and wastewater customer connections on the islands of Maui and Hawaii, including several large resorts and condominium complexes. Hawaii Water's regulated customer connections are subject to the jurisdiction of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC). Hawaii Water accounts for 0.9% of our total customer connections and approximately 3.6% of our total consolidated operating revenue.
Washington Water provides domestic water service to approximately 16,800 customer connections in the Tacoma and Olympia areas. Washington Water's utility operations are regulated by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. Washington Water accounts for approximately 3.3% of our total customer connections and approximately 1.8% of our total consolidated operating revenue.
New Mexico Water provides service to approximately 8,100 water and wastewater customer connections in the Belen, Los Lunas and Elephant Butte areas in New Mexico. New Mexico's regulated operations are subject to the jurisdiction of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. New Mexico Water accounts for approximately 1.6% of our total customer connections and 0.7% of our total consolidated operating revenue.
The state regulatory bodies governing our regulated operations are referred to as the Commissions in this annual report. Rates and operations for regulated customers are subject to the jurisdiction of the respective state's regulatory Commission. The Commissions require that water and wastewater rates for each regulated district be independently determined based on the cost of service, except in Washington, which has a statewide tariff. The Commissions are expected to authorize rates sufficient to recover normal operating expenses and allow the utility to earn a fair and reasonable return on invested capital.
We distribute water in accordance with accepted water utility methods. Where applicable, we hold franchises and permits in the cities and communities where we operate. The franchises and permits allow us to operate and maintain facilities in public streets and right-of-ways as necessary.
We operate the City of Hawthorne and the City of Commerce water systems under lease agreements. In accordance with the lease agreements, we receive all revenues from operating the systems and are responsible for paying the operating costs. The City of Hawthorne and the City of Commerce lease revenues are governed through their respective city councils and are considered non-regulated because they are outside of the CPUC's jurisdiction. We report revenue and expenses for the City of Hawthorne and City of Commerce leases in operating revenue and operating expenses because we are entitled to retain all customer billings and are responsible for all operating expenses. These leases are considered "nontariffed products and services" (NTPS) by the CPUC and require a 10% revenue sharing with regulated customers.
In October 2011, an agreement was negotiated with the City of Hawthorne to lease and operate its water system. The system, which is located near the Hermosa Redondo district, serves about half of Hawthorne's population. The capital lease agreement required an up-front $8.1 million lease deposit to the city that is being amortized over the lease term. Additionally, annual lease payments will be adjusted based on changes in rates charged to customers. Under the lease we are responsible for all aspects of system operation and capital improvements, although title to the system and system improvements reside with the city. Capital improvements are recorded as depreciable plant and equipment and depreciated per the asset lives set forth in the agreement. In exchange, we receive all revenue from the water system, which was $10.0 million, $8.5 million and $8.0 million in 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively. At the end of the lease, the city is required to reimburse us for the unamortized value of capital improvements made during the term of the lease. The City of Hawthorne capital lease is a 15-year lease and expires in 2026.
In July 2003, an agreement was negotiated with the City of Commerce to lease and operate its water system. The lease was a 15-year lease and expires in June 2018. In 2017, we bid to provide services after June 2018 and we expect the City of Commerce to release the results of the bidding process in 2018. Under the current agreement, the operating lease requires us to pay $0.8 million per year in monthly installments and $200 per acre-foot for water usage exceeding 2,000 acre-feet per year, plus a percentage of certain operational savings that may be realized. Under the lease agreement, we are responsible for all aspects of the system's operations. The city is responsible for capital expenditures, and title to the system and system improvements resides with the city. We bear the risks of operation and collection of amounts billed to customers. The agreement allows Cal Water to request a rate change in order to recover costs. In exchange, we receive all revenue from the water system, which was $3.4 million, $2.5 million, and $2.0 million in 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively.
Fees for non-regulated activities are based on contracts negotiated between the parties. Under our non-regulated contract arrangements, we operate municipally owned water systems, privately owned water and recycled water distribution systems, but are not responsible for all operating costs. Non-regulated revenue received from water system operations is generally determined on a fee-per-customer basis.
Non-regulated revenue and expenses consist primarily of the operation of water systems that are owned by other entities under lease agreements, leasing of communication antenna sites on our properties, billing of optional third-party insurance programs to our residential customers, and unrealized gains or losses on benefit plan investments.
Effective June 30, 2011, the CPUC adopted new rules related to the provision of non-regulated services using utility assets and employees. As a result, nearly all California non-regulated activities are now considered NTPS. The prescribed accounting for these NTPS is incremental cost allocation plus revenue sharing with regulated customers. Non-regulated services determined to be "active activities" require a 10% revenue sharing, and "passive activities" require a 30% revenue sharing. The amount of non-regulated revenues subject to revenue sharing is the total billed revenues less any authorized pass-through costs. Some examples of CPUC authorized pass-through costs are purchased water, purchased power, and pump taxes. All of our non-regulated services, except for leasing communication antenna sites on our properties and unrealized gains or losses on benefit investments, are "active activities" subject to a 10% revenue sharing. Leasing communication antenna sites on our properties are "passive activities" subject to a 30% revenue sharing. Cal Water's annual revenue sharing with regulated customers was $2.2 million, $2.1 million, and $2.2 million in 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively.
We operate in one reportable segment, the supply and distribution of water and providing water-related utility services. For information about revenue from external customers, net income and total assets, see "Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data."
We intend to continue exploring opportunities to expand our regulated and non-regulated water and wastewater activities in the western United States. The opportunities could include system acquisitions, lease arrangements similar to the City of Hawthorne and City of Commerce contracts, full service system operation and maintenance agreements, meter reading, billing contracts and other utility-related services.
Geographical Service Areas and Number of Customer Connections at Year-end
Our principal markets are users of water within our service areas. The approximate number of customer connections served in each regulated district, the City of Hawthorne and the City of Commerce, at December 31 is as follows:
(rounded to the nearest hundred)
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA/NORTH COAST
Bay Area Region (serving South San Francisco, Colma, Broadmoor, San Mateo, San Carlos, Lucerne, Duncans Mills, Guerneville, Dillon Beach, Noel Heights and portions of Santa Rosa)
Bear Gulch (serving portions of Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley)
Los Altos (including portions of Cupertino, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View and Sunnyvale)
Chico (including Hamilton City)
Monterey Region (including Salinas and King City)
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
Kern River Valley
(rounded to the nearest hundred)
LOS ANGELES AREA
East Los Angeles
Hermosa Redondo (serving Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and a portion of Torrance)
Dominguez (Carson and portions of Compton, Harbor City, Long Beach, Los Angeles and Torrance)
Los Angeles County Region (including Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills Estates, Rolling Hills, Fremont Valley, Lake Hughes, Lancaster and Leona Valley)
Westlake (a portion of Thousand Oaks)
Hawthorne and Commerce (leased municipal systems)
Rates and Regulation
The Commissions have plenary powers setting both rates and operating standards. As such, the Commissions' decisions significantly impact the Company's revenues, earnings, and cash flows. The amounts discussed herein are generally annual amounts, unless otherwise stated, and the financial impact to recorded revenue is expected to occur over a 12-month period from the effective date of the decision. In California, water utilities are required to make several different types of filings. Certain filings, such as: General Rate Case (GRC) filings, escalation rate increase filings, and offset filings, may result in rate changes that generally remain in place until the next GRC. As explained below, surcharges and surcredits to recover balancing and memorandum accounts as well as GRC interim rate relief are temporary rate changes, which have specific time frames for recovery.
The CPUC follows a rate case plan, which requires Cal Water to file a GRC for each of its regulated operating districts every three years. In a GRC proceeding, the CPUC not only considers the utility's rate setting requests, but may also consider other issues that affect the utility's rates and operations. The CPUC is generally required to issue its GRC decision prior to the first day of the test year or authorize interim rates. In accordance with the rate case plan, Cal Water will file its next GRC application in July of 2018.
Between GRC filings, Cal Water may file escalation rate increases, which allow Cal Water to recover cost increases, primarily from inflation and incremental investments, during the second and third years of the rate case cycle. However, escalation rate increases are district specific and subject to an earnings test. The CPUC may reduce a district’s escalation rate increase if, in the most recent 13-month period, the earnings test reflects earnings in excess of what was authorized for that district.
In addition, California water utilities are entitled to make offset requests via advice letter. Offsets may be requested to adjust revenues for construction projects authorized in GRCs when those capital projects go into service (these filings are referred to as "rate base offsets"), or for rate changes charged to Cal Water for purchased water, purchased power, and pump taxes (which are referred to as "expense offsets"). Rate changes approved in offset requests remain in effect until the next GRC is approved.
In pursuit of the CPUC's water conservation goals, the CPUC decoupled Cal Water's revenue requirement from customer consumption levels in 2008 by authorizing a Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (WRAM) and Modified Cost Balancing Account (MCBA) for each district. The WRAM and MCBA ensure that Cal Water recovers revenues authorized by the CPUC regardless of customer consumption. This removes the historical disincentive against promoting lower water usage among customers. Through an annual advice letter filing, Cal Water recovers any under-collected metered revenue amounts authorized, or refunds over-collected quantity revenues, via surcharges and surcredits. The advice letters are filed between February and April of each year and address the net WRAM and MCBA balances recorded for the previous calendar year. The majority of WRAM and MCBA balances are collected or refunded through surcharges/surcredits over 12 and 18 months. The WRAM and MCBA amounts are cumulative, so if they are not amortized in a given calendar year, the balance is carried forward and included with the following year balance. Cal Water has a Sales Reconciliation Mechanism (SRM) in place for the second and
third years of a GRC that allow the company to adjust its adopted sales forecast if actual sales vary from adopted sales by more than 5.0% in the prior year. The SRM moderates the growth of the net WRAM and MCBA balance.
Regulatory Activity - California
2015 GRC filing
On December 15, 2016, the CPUC voted to approve Cal Water's 2015 GRC settlement agreement. The approved decision, which was proposed by the presiding Administrative Law Judge in November 2016, authorizes Cal Water to increase gross revenue by approximately $45.0 million starting on January 1, 2017, up to $17.2 million in 2018, up to $16.3 million in 2019, and up to $30.0 million upon completion and approval of the Company’s advice letter projects. The 2018 and 2019 revenue increases are subject to the CPUC’s earning test protocol.
The CPUC’s decision also authorizes Cal Water to invest $658.8 million in water system improvements throughout California over the three-year period of 2016-2018 in order to continue to provide safe and reliable water to its customers. This figure includes $197.3 million of water system infrastructure improvements that will be subject to the CPUC’s advice letter procedure.
Cost of Capital Application
In April of 2017, Cal Water, along with three other water utilities, filed an application to adopt a new cost of capital and capital structure for 2018. Cal Water requested a return on equity of 10.75% and a 53.4% equity capital structure as well as a water cost of capital adjustment mechanism similar to that last adopted for the company. The California Office of Ratepayer Advocates and other parties submitted testimony and the CPUC held evidentiary hearings in September 2017.
On February 6, 2018, the CPUC issued the proposed decision of the assigned administrative law judge. The proposed decision would lower Cal Water’s authorized return on equity from 9.43% to 8.22%. If the proposed decision were adopted without changes, Cal Water would be required to reduce its rates collected from California customers by approximately $13.0 million, which will reduce Cal Water's 2018 net income and net cash provided by operating activities. A proposed decision must be approved by the full Commission to go into effect. The Commission could modify or reject the proposed decision and will first consider the matter at its meeting on March 22, 2018.
Escalation increase requests
As a part of the decision on the 2015 GRC, Cal Water was authorized to request annual escalation rate increases for 2018 for those districts that passed the earnings test. In November of 2017, Cal Water requested escalation rate increases in all of its regulated districts. The annual adopted gross revenue associated with the November 2017 filing was $15.9 million. The new rates became effective on January 1, 2018.
Expense offset requests
Expense offsets are dollar-for-dollar increases in revenue to match increased expenses, and therefore do not affect net operating income. In October of 2016, Cal Water submitted advice letters to offset increases in purchased water costs and pump taxes in four of its regulated districts, totaling $1.9 million. The new rates became effective on January 1, 2017.
In March of 2017, Cal Water submitted an advice letter to offset increased purchased water in one of its regulated districts, totaling $1.0 million. The new rates became effective on April 15, 2017.
In June of 2017, Cal Water submitted advice letters to offset increased purchased water and pump taxes in four of its regulated districts, totaling $2.7 million. The new rates became effective on July 1, 2017.
In July of 2017, Cal Water submitted an advice letter to offset increased purchased water and pump taxes in one of its regulated districts, totaling $0.2 million. The new rates became effective on August 1, 2017.
In October of 2017, Cal Water submitted advice letters to request offsets for increases in purchased water costs and pump taxes in five of its regulated districts totaling $2.2 million. The new rates became effective on January 1, 2018.
Rate base offset requests
For construction projects authorized in GRCs as advice letter projects, Cal Water is allowed to request rate base offsets to increase revenues after the project goes into service. In November of 2016, Cal Water submitted an advice letter to recover $2.6 million of annual revenue increase for rate base offsets in five of its regulated districts. The new rates became effective on January 1, 2017.
In April of 2017, Cal Water submitted advice letters to recover $0.9 million of annual revenue increase for rate base offsets in two of its regulated districts. The new rates became effective on April 15, 2017.
In May of 2017, Cal Water submitted an advice letter to recover $0.4 million of annual revenue increase for a rate base offset in one of its regulated districts. The new rates became effective on July 1, 2017.
In November of 2017, Cal Water submitted an advice letter to recover $1.4 million of annual revenue increase for a rate base offset in one of its regulated districts. The new rates became effective on January 1, 2018.
In March of 2017, Cal Water submitted an advice letter to true up the revenue over- and under-collections in the 2016 annual WRAMs/MCBAs of its regulated districts. A net under-collection of $25.8 million is being recovered from customers in the form of 12, 18, and greater-than-18-month surcharges/surcredits. The new rates became effective April 15, 2017. This surcharge/surcredit in some cases is in addition to surcharges/surcredits authorized in prior years which have not yet expired.
Drought Memorandum Account
The incremental costs tracked in the drought memorandum account for the twelve month period ended December 31, 2017 were $0.2 million, of which less than $0.1 million was spent on capital. For the twelve month period ended December 31, 2016, incremental costs were $5.0 million, of which $0.7 million was spent on capital.
On December 15, 2016, the CPUC approved a resolution to allow Cal Water to begin recovering $2.9 million of incremental costs related to 2015 and 2014 through a surcharge which became effective on January 1, 2017.
In 2018, Cal Water expects to submit an advice letter to request recovery of 2016 and 2017 incremental drought expenses.
1,2,3 Trichloropropane (TCP) Memorandum Account
Established in December 2009, the TCP memorandum account tracks the costs incurred and proceeds received and applied with respect to litigation against manufacturers and distributors referred to as potentially responsible parties (PRPs) that manufactured and distributed products that contained TCP in California. Cal Water incurred incremental internal and external costs to support its litigation effort. The TCP memorandum account also tracks litigation awards and settlement proceeds. Finally, the TCP memorandum account will track the application of funds received towards remediation costs, including TCP water treatment expenses and the costs of investments in replacement and treatment property.
On December 20, 2017, Cal Water entered into an $85.0 million settlement agreement and release of claims with the PRPs, in California Water Service Company and City of Bakersfield v. The Dow Chemical Company, et al., Civil Case No. CIV-470999 (TCP Action). The TCP Action seeks damages and other relief related to the PRPs’ alleged contamination of drinking water supply and water wells with the chemical TCP.
The proceeds from the settlement, after payment of the legal fees, was $56.0 million and will be used to reimburse a portion of the capital costs associated with Cal Water’s remediation efforts related to such alleged TCP contamination. Under the terms of the Agreement, the PRPs are released from all claims regarding 47 of the 57 total claimed wells, and Cal Water agrees to file a dismissal with prejudice of the TCP Action. The PRPs are also released from future claims regarding TCP contamination of any other wells, unless and until Cal Water has installed granular activated carbon filtration systems or other then-approved Sate treatment technology for TCP on, or replaced, 36 wells due to TCP contamination.
2018 Tax Accounting Memorandum Account (TAMA)
On December 22, 2017, the CPUC sent a letter to All Class A and B Water and Sewer Utilities on the subject of “Changes in Federal Tax Rates for 2018.” The CPUC required Cal Water to establish a memo account to track the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has on Cal Water. The TAMA will track the revenue requirement impact of the TCJA not otherwise reflected in rates from January 1, 2018 until the effective date of the revenue requirement changes adopted in Cal Water's next GRC. The Hawaii Water, Washington Water, and New Mexico Water Commissions have similar requirements to track the impact of the changes to the federal tax law.
School Lead Testing Memorandum Account (SLT MA)
In March of 2017, Cal Water submitted an advice letter that established the SLT MA, which gives Cal Water the opportunity to recover costs related to lead monitoring and testing required by the State Water Resources Control Board's Division of Drinking Water. The SLT MA will track all incremental expenses associated with lead testing conducted at the request of K-12 schools within Cal Water's service territory.
Phase 1 Sites Reservoir Memorandum Account (PHASE 1 SITES MA)
In July of 2017, Cal Water submitted an advice letter that established the PHASE 1 SITES MA, which gives Cal Water the opportunity to recover costs associated with participation in phase 1 of the proposed Sites Reservoir project, an off-stream project located on the west side of the Sacramento Valley. The PHASE 1 SITES MA will track amounts paid to the Sites Reservoir Authority for Phase 1 and is capped at $1.0 million.
Travis Air Force Base
On September 29, 2016, Cal Water entered into a 50-year agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense to acquire the water distribution assets of, and to provide water utility service to, the Travis Air Force Base beginning in 2018. On May 31, 2017, Cal Water submitted an application to the CPUC seeking approval to provide water service to the base and to establish rates for its service.
The water system utilizes surface water treated at a water treatment plant and groundwater from five wells, and includes distribution piping, storage tanks, hydrants, and other appurtenances to serve about 15,280 active and reserve personnel and civilians on the 6,400-acre base. If approved, Cal Water will make initial capital improvements of about $12.7 million, with an anticipated capital investment of about $52.0 million over the 50-year term of the utility service contract.
Regulatory Activity - Other States
2016 Pukalani (Hawaii Water) GRC Filing
In December of 2016, Hawaii water filed a GRC for its Pukalani wastewater system requesting an additional $1.3 million in revenues on an annual basis. The application requested recovery for increases in operating expenses since the previous rate case as well as recovery of the balance of the cost of the wastewater treatment plant that was not approved to be included in customer rates in the previous rate case among other capital investments. On September 15, 2017, the HPUC issued a proposed decision authorizing an $0.8 million increase in revenues on an annual basis. Pursuant to a settlement agreement between Hawaii Water and the Consumer Advocate, the revenue increase will be phased-in over 4 years ($0.2 million per year). The first phase of the increase was effective on October 18, 2017.
2017 Waikoloa (Hawaii Water) GRC Filings
In December of 2017, Hawaii Water filed GRC applications requesting an additional $3.8 million in revenues on an annual basis for its Waikoloa Village and Resort Systems with the HPUC. The GRCs seek recovery of capital investments in the Waikoloa Village and Waikoloa Resort Systems as well as increases in operating expenses since the previous rate case. If approved, the Company anticipates rates would become effective in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Our source of supply varies among our operating districts. Certain districts obtain all of their supply from wells; some districts purchase all of their supply from wholesale suppliers; and other districts obtain supply from a combination of wells and wholesale suppliers. A small portion of supply comes from surface sources and is processed through Company-owned water treatment plants. To the best of management's knowledge, we are meeting water quality, environmental, and other regulatory standards for all Company-owned systems.
Historically, approximately 46.5% of our annual water supply is pumped from wells. State groundwater management agencies operate differently in each state. Some of our wells extract ground water from water basins under state ordinances. These are adjudicated groundwater basins, in which a court has settled the dispute between landowners or other parties over how much annual groundwater can be extracted by each party. All of our adjudicated groundwater basins are located in the State of California. Our annual groundwater extraction from adjudicated groundwater basins approximates 6.8 billion gallons or 14.4% of our total annual water supply pumped from wells. Historically, we have extracted less than 100% of our annual adjudicated groundwater rights and have the right to carry forward up to 20% of the unused amount to the next annual period. All of our remaining wells extract ground water from managed or unmanaged water basins. There are no set limits for the ground water extracted from these water basins. Our annual groundwater extraction from managed groundwater basins approximates 28.0 billion gallons or 58.9% of our total annual water supply pumped from wells. Our annual groundwater extraction from unmanaged groundwater basins approximates 12.7 billion gallons or 26.7% of our total annual water supply pumped from wells. Most of the managed groundwater basins we extract water from have groundwater recharge facilities. We are required to pay well pump taxes to financially support these groundwater recharge facilities. Our well pump taxes for the 12 months ending December 31, 2017, 2016, and 2015 were $13.9 million, $11.3 million, and $11.5 million, respectively. In 2014, the State of California enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014. The law and its implementing regulations will require most basins to select a sustainability agency by
2017, develop a sustainability plan by 2022, and show progress toward sustainability by 2027. We expect that in the future, groundwater will be produced mainly from managed and adjudicated basins.
California's normal weather pattern yields little precipitation between mid-spring and mid-fall. The Washington Water service areas receive precipitation in all seasons, with the heaviest amounts during the winter. New Mexico Water's rainfall is heaviest in the summer monsoon season. Hawaii Water receives precipitation throughout the year, with the largest amounts in the winter months. Water usage in all service areas is highest during the warm and dry summers and declines in the cool winter months. Rain and snow during the winter months in California replenish underground water aquifers and fill reservoirs, providing the water supply for subsequent delivery to customers. As of December 31, 2017, the State of California snowpack water content during the 2017-2018 water year is 67% of long-term averages (per the California Department of Water Resources, Northern Sierra Precipitation Accumulation report). The northern Sierra region is the most important for the state’s urban water supplies. The central and southern portions of the Sierras also have recorded 26% and 31%, respectively, of long-term averages. In January of 2014, California's Governor Brown proclaimed a drought emergency and directed State officials to take all necessary actions to make water immediately available. On April 7, 2017, the Governor declared an end to the drought emergency in 54 of California’s 58 counties. Two of Cal Water's districts remain under a declared drought; these were areas where groundwater was impacted by five years of drought conditions. Management believes that supply pumped from underground aquifers and purchased from wholesale suppliers will be adequate to meet customer demand during 2018 and beyond. Long-term water supply plans are developed for each of our districts to help assure an adequate water supply under various operating and supply conditions. Some districts have unique challenges in meeting water quality standards, but management believes that supplies will meet current standards using current treatment processes.
The following table shows the estimated quantity of water purchased and the percentage of purchased water to total water production in each California operating district that purchased water in 2017. Other than noted below, all other districts receive 100% of their water supply from wells.
Source of Purchased Supply
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA/NORTH COAST
Bay Area Region*
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
Santa Clara Valley Water District
Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Zone 7
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and County of Butte
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
Kern County Water Agency and City of Bakersfield
Stockton East Water District
LOS ANGELES AREA
East Los Angeles
Central Basin Municipal Water District
West Basin Municipal Water District and City of Torrance
City of Commerce
Central Basin Municipal Water District
West Basin Municipal Water District
West Basin Municipal Water District
Los Angeles County Region**
West Basin Municipal Water District and Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency
Calleguas Municipal Water District and Oak Park Water Service
Kern River Valley
City of Bakersfield
MG = million gallons
* Bay Area Region includes Bayshore and Redwood Valley
** Los Angeles County Region includes Palos Verdes and Antelope Valley
The Bear Gulch district obtains a portion of its water supply from surface runoff from the local watershed. The Oroville district in the Sacramento Valley, the Bakersfield district in the San Joaquin Valley, and the Kern River Valley district in the Los Angeles Area purchase water from a surface supply. Surface sources are processed through our water treatment plants before being delivered to the distribution system. The Bakersfield district also purchases treated water as a component of its water supply.
The Chico, Marysville, Dixon, and Willows districts in the Sacramento Valley, the Monterey Region district in the Salinas Valley, and the Selma and Visalia districts in the San Joaquin Valley obtain their entire supply from wells.
Purchases for the Los Altos, Livermore, Oroville, Redwood Valley, Stockton, and Bakersfield districts are pursuant to long-term contracts expiring on various dates after 2017. The water supplies purchased for the Dominguez, East Los Angeles, Hermosa Redondo, Palos Verdes, and Westlake districts as well as the Hawthorne and Commerce systems are provided by public agencies pursuant to a statutory obligation of continued non-preferential service to purveyors within the agencies' boundaries. Purchases for the Bayshore and Bear Gulch districts are in accordance with long-term contracts with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) until June 30, 2034.
Management anticipates water supply contracts will be renewed as they expire though the price of wholesale water purchases is subject to pricing changes imposed by the various wholesalers.
Shown below are wholesaler price rates and increases that became effective in 2017 and estimated wholesaler price rates and percent changes for 2018. In 2017, several districts experienced purchased water rate increases, resulting in the filing of several purchased water offsets.
East Los Angeles(2)
South San Francisco
af = acre foot;
ccf = hundred cubic feet;
yr = fixed annual cost;
mo = fixed monthly cost
wholesaler price changes occur every six months
We work with all local suppliers and agencies responsible for water supply to insure adequate, long-term supply for each system.
See Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Water Supply" for more information on adequacy of supplies.
In California, our customers' consumption pattern of water varies with the weather, in terms of rainfall and temperature. In the WRAM and MCBA design, the CPUC considers the historical pattern in determining the adopted sales and production costs. With a majority of our sales being subject to the WRAM and production costs being covered by the MCBA, fluctuations in financial results have been minimized. However, cash flows from operations and short-term borrowings on our credit facilities can be significantly impacted by seasonal fluctuations including recovery of the WRAM and MCBA.
Our water business is seasonal in nature. Weather conditions can have a material effect on customer usage. Customer demand for water generally is lower during the cooler and rainy winter months. Demand increases in the spring when warmer weather returns and the rains end, and customer use more water for outdoor purposes, such as landscape irrigation. Warm temperatures during the generally dry summer months result in increased demand. Water usage declines during the fall as temperatures decrease and the rainy season begins. During years in which precipitation is especially heavy or extends beyond the spring into the early summer, customer demand can decrease from historic normal levels, generally due to reduced outdoor water usage. Likewise, an early start to the rainy season during the fall can cause a decline in customer usage. As a result, seasonality of water usage has a significant impact on our cash flows from operations and borrowing on our short-term facilities.
Utility Plant Construction
We have continually extended, enlarged, and replaced our facilities as required to meet increasing demands and to maintain the water systems. We obtain construction financing using funds from operations, short-term bank borrowings, long-term financing, advances for construction and contributions in aid of construction that are funded by developers. Advances for construction are cash deposits from developers for construction of water facilities or water facilities deeded from developers. These advances are generally refundable without interest over a period of 40 years in equal annual payment amounts. Contributions in aid of construction consist of nonrefundable cash deposits or facilities transferred from developers, primarily for fire protection and relocation projects. We cannot control the amounts received from developers. This amount fluctuates from year-to-year as the level of construction activity carried on by developers varies. This activity is impacted by the demand for housing, commercial development, and general business conditions, including interest rates.
See Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources" for additional information.
We continue to use power efficiently to minimize the power expenses passed on to our customers, and maintain backup power systems to continue water service to our customers if the power companies' supplies are interrupted. Many of our well sites are equipped with emergency electric generators designed to produce electricity to keep the wells operating during power outages. Storage tanks also provide customers with water during blackout periods.
Impact of Climate Change Legislation
Our operations depend on power provided by other public utilities and, in emergencies, power generated by our portable and fixed generators. If future legislation limits emissions from the power generation process, our cost of power may increase. Any increase in the cost of power will be passed along to our California customers through the MCBA or included in our cost of service paid by our customers as requested in our GRC filings.
We maintain a fleet of vehicles to provide service to our customers, including a number of heavy duty diesel vehicles that were retrofitted to meet California emission standards. If future legislation further impacts the cost to operate the fleet or the fleet acquisition cost in order to meet certain emission standards, it will increase our cost of service and our rate base. Any increase in fleet operating costs associated with meeting emission standards will be included in our cost of service paid by our customers as requested in our GRC filings. While recovery of these costs is not guaranteed, we would expect recovery in the regulatory process.
Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), all capital projects of a certain type (primarily wells, tanks, major pipelines and treatment facilities) require mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. The cost to prepare the CEQA documentation and permit will be included in our capital cost and added to our rate base, which will be requested to be paid for by our customers. Any increase in the operating cost of the facilities will also be included in our cost of service paid by our customers as requested in our GRC filings. While recovery of these costs is not guaranteed, we would expect recovery in the regulatory process.
Cap and trade regulations were implemented in 2012 with the goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. These regulations have not impacted water utilities at this time. In the future, if we are required to comply with these regulations, any increase in operating costs associated with meeting these standards will be included in our cost of service paid by our customers as requested in our GRC filings. While recovery of these costs is not guaranteed, we would expect recovery in the regulatory process.
Security at Company Facilities
Due to terrorism and other risks, we have heightened security at our facilities and have taken added precautions to protect our employees and the water delivered to customers. In 2002, federal legislation was enacted that resulted in new regulations concerning security of water facilities, including submitting vulnerability assessment studies to the federal government. We have complied with regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pursuant to federal legislation concerning vulnerability assessments and have made filings to the EPA as required. In addition, communication plans have been developed as a component of our procedures. While we do not make public comments on our security programs, we have been in contact with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to coordinate and improve our water delivery systems' security.
Quality of Water Supply
Our operating practices are designed to produce potable water in accordance with accepted water utility practices. Water entering the distribution systems from surface sources is treated in compliance with federal and state Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) standards. Most well supplies are chlorinated or chloraminated for disinfection. Water samples from each water system are analyzed on a regular, scheduled basis in compliance with regulatory requirements. We operate a state-certified water quality laboratory at the San Jose General Office that provides testing for most of our California operations. Certain tests in California are contracted with independent certified labs qualified under the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program. Local independent state certified labs provide water sample testing for the Washington, New Mexico and Hawaii operations.
In recent years, federal and state water quality regulations have resulted in increased water sampling requirements. The SDWA continues to be amended to address public health concerns. We monitor water quality standard changes and upgrade our treatment capabilities to maintain compliance with the various regulations.
Competition and Condemnation
Our principal operations are regulated by the Commission of each state. Under state laws, no privately owned public utility may compete within any service territory that we already serve without first obtaining a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the applicable Commission. Issuance of such a certificate would only be made upon finding that our service is deficient. To management's knowledge, no application to provide service to an area served by us has been made.
State law provides that whenever a public agency constructs facilities to extend a utility system into the service area of a privately owned public utility, such an act constitutes the taking of property and requires reimbursement to the utility for its loss. State statutes allow municipalities, water districts and other public agencies to own and operate water systems. These agencies are empowered to condemn properties already operated by privately owned public utilities. The agencies are also authorized to issue bonds, including revenue bonds, for the purpose of acquiring or constructing water systems. However, if a public agency were to acquire utility property by eminent domain action, the utility would be entitled to just compensation for its loss. In Washington, annexation was approved in February 2008 for property served by us on Orcas Island; however, we continue to serve the customers in the annexed area and do not expect the annexation to impact our operations. To management's knowledge, other than the Orcas Island property, no municipality, water district, or other public agency is contemplating or has any action pending to acquire or condemn any of our systems.
Our operations are subject to environmental regulation by various governmental authorities. Environmental health and safety programs have been designed to provide compliance with water discharge regulations, underground and aboveground fuel storage tank regulations, hazardous materials management plans, hazardous waste regulations, air quality permitting requirements,
wastewater discharge limitations and employee safety issues related to hazardous materials. Also, we actively investigate alternative technologies for meeting environmental regulations and continue the traditional practices of meeting environmental regulations.
For a description of the material effects that compliance with environmental regulations may have on us, see Item 1A. "Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Regulatory Environment." We expect environmental regulation to increase, resulting in higher operating costs in the future, and there can be no assurance that the Commissions would approve rate increases to enable us to recover these additional compliance costs.
At December 31, 2017, we had 1,176 employees, including 50 at Washington Water, 41 at Hawaii Water, and 17 at New Mexico Water. In California, most non-supervisory employees are represented by the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, except certain engineering and laboratory employees who are represented by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, AFL-CIO.
At December 31, 2017, we had 750 union employees. In January 2015, we negotiated a six-year contract that included 2015, 2016, and 2017 wage increases with both of our unions of 3.25% and 2.75%, and 2.75%, respectively. Annual wage increases for 2018, 2019, and 2020 are estimated to be in the range from 2.5% to 3.25% based on current forecast inflation rates. The wage changes will fluctuate with the changes to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the Los Angeles area. In the event an annual wage increase is determined to be greater than 3.25% or less that 2.0%, either party may request to re-open negotiations for wages only. Such notice must be served on the other party no later than 60 days after the publication of such CPI data. The current agreement with the unions is effective through 2020. Management believes that it maintains good relationships with the unions.
Employees at Washington Water, New Mexico Water, and Hawaii Water are not represented by unions.
Executive Officers of the Registrant
Positions and Offices with California Water Service Group
Martin A. Kropelnicki (1)
President and Chief Executive Officer since September 1, 2013. Formerly, President and Chief Operating Officer (2012-2013), Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer (2006-2012), served as Chief Financial Officer of Power Light Corporation (2005-2006), Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Services of Hall Kinion and Associates (1997-2004), Deloitte & Touche Consulting (1996-1997), held various positions with Pacific Gas & Electric (1989-1996).
Thomas F. Smegal III (2)
Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer since October 1, 2012. Formerly, Vice President, Regulatory Matters and Corporate Relations (2008-2012), Manager of Rates (2002-2008), Regulatory Analyst (1997-2002), served as Utilities Engineer at the California Public Utilities Commission (1990-1997).
Paul G. Townsley (2)
Vice President of Rates and Regulatory Matters since March 4, 2013. Formerly Divisional Vice President, Operations and Engineering for EPCOR Water USA (2012-2013), served as President of American Water Works Company subsidiaries in Arizona, New Mexico, and Hawaii (2007-2012), served as American Water Works Company's President, Western Region (2002-2007), held various other positions with Citizens Utilities Company (1982-2002).
Robert J. Kuta (2)
Vice President of Engineering effective April 15, 2015. Formerly Senior Vice President of Operations Management Services, Water, Environmental and Nuclear markets for CH2M Hill (2006 to 2015), served as Western Region Vice President of Service Delivery and President of Arizona American Water Company (2001 to 2005), and held various management positions at Citizens Water Resource Company, Chaparral City Water Company, and Spring Creek Utilities (1993 to 2001).
Michael B. Luu (2)
Vice President of Customer Service and Chief Information Officer effective January 1, 2017. Formerly Vice President of Customer Service and Information Technology (2013-2016), Acting California Water Service Company District Manager, Los Altos (2012-2013), Director of Information Technology (2008-2012), CIS Development Manager (2005-2008), held various other positions with California Water Service Company since 1999.
Timothy D. Treloar (2)
Vice President of Water Quality and Chief Utility Operations Officer effective January 1, 2017. Formerly Vice President of Operations and Water Quality (2013-2016), Director of Water Quality (2013), California Water Service Company District Manager, Bakersfield (2002-2013), Assistant District Manager (1997-2002), General Superintendent (1994-1997).
Positions and Offices with California Water Service Group
Ronald D. Webb (2)
Vice President of Human Resources since August 11, 2014. Formerly Managing Director, Human Resources Partner for United Airlines (2006-2014), served as Vice President of Human Resources for Black & Decker Corporation (1995-2005), Human Resource Manager for General Electric Company (1990-1994), and held various labor relations positions for National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (1982-1989).
Lynne P. McGhee (2)
Vice President and General Counsel since January 1, 2015. Formerly Corporate Secretary (2007-2014), Associate Corporate Counsel (2003-2014), and served as a Commissioner legal advisor and staff counsel at the California Public Utilities Commission (1998-2003).
David B. Healey (2)
Vice President, Corporate Controller and Assistant Treasurer since January 1, 2015. Formerly Corporate Controller and Assistant Treasurer (2012-2014), Director of Financial Reporting (2009-2012), served as Subsidiary Controller for SunPower Corporation (2005-2009), Corporate Controller for Hall, Kinion & Associates, Inc. (1997-2005), held various other positions with Pacific Gas & Electric Company (1985-1997).
Shannon C. Dean (2)
Vice President of Corporate Communications & Community Affairs since January 1, 2015. Formerly Director of Corporate Communications (2000-2014), held various corporate communications, government and community relations for Dominguez Water Company (1991-1999).
Michelle R. Mortensen (2)
Corporate Secretary since January 1, 2015. Formerly Assistant Corporate Secretary (2014), Treasury Manager (2012-2013), Assistant to the Chief Financial Officer (2011), Regulatory Accounting Manager (2008-2010), held various accounting positions at Piller Data Systems (2006-2007), Hitachi Global Storage (2005), Abbot Laboratories (1998-2004), and Symantec (1998-2001).
Elissa Y. Ouyang (2)
Chief Procurement and Lead Continuous Improvement Officer since March 1, 2016. Formerly, Interim Procurement Director (2013-2016), Acting District Manager - Los Altos (2013), Interim Vice President of Information Technology (2012-2013), Director of Information Technology - Architecture and Security (2008-2012), Business Application Manager (2003-2007), Project Lead/Senior Developer (2001-2003), held various business consulting positions at KPMG Consulting/BearingPoint (1998-2001), and RR Donnelley (1996-1998).
Gerald A. Simon (2)
Chief Safety and Emergency Preparedness Officer since March 1, 2016. Formerly, Director of Safety and Emergency Services (2015), Emergency Services Manager (2014), Emergency Services Coordinator (2013), served as Fire Chief for Oakland, CA (2008-2011) and (1999-2004), Fire Chief for Fort Lauderdale, FL (2006-2007), Fire Chief for Union City, CA (2005-2006), Fire Chief for Santa Clara, CA (1993-1999) held various other positions at Santa Clara Fire Department (1976-1999), and Fire Services Consultant (1985-2015).
Holds the same position with California Water Service Company, CWS Utility Services, Hawaii Water Service Company, Inc., and New Mexico Water Service Company; Chief Executive Officer of Washington Water Service Company.
Holds the same position with California Water Service Company, CWS Utility Services, Hawaii Water Service Company, Inc., New Mexico Water Service Company, and Washington Water Service Company.
Item 1A. Risk Factors.
If any of the following risks actually occur, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
Risks Related to Our Regulatory Environment
Our business is heavily regulated by state and federal regulatory agencies and our financial viability depends upon our ability to recover costs from our customers through rates that must be approved by state public utility commissions.
California Water Service Company, New Mexico Water Service Company, Washington Water Service Company and Hawaii Water Service Company, Inc., are regulated public utilities which provide water and water-related service to our customers. The rates that we charge our water customers are subject to the jurisdiction of the regulatory commissions in the states in which we operate. These Commissions may set water and water-related rates for each operating district independently because the systems are not interconnected. The Commissions authorize us to charge rates that they consider to be sufficient to recover normal operating
expenses, to provide funds for adding new or replacing water infrastructure, and to allow us to earn what the Commissions consider to be a fair and reasonable return on invested capital.
Our revenues and consequently our ability to meet our financial objectives are dependent upon the rates we are authorized to charge our customers by the Commissions and our ability to recover our costs in these rates. Our management uses forecasts, models and estimates in order to set rates that will provide a fair and reasonable return on our invested capital. While our rates must be approved by the Commissions, no assurance can be given that our forecasts, models and estimates will be correct or that the Commissions will agree with our forecasts, models and estimates. If our rates are set too low, our revenues may be insufficient to cover our operating expenses, capital expenditure requirements and desired dividend levels.
We periodically file rate increase applications with the Commissions. The ensuing administrative and hearing process may be lengthy and costly. The decisions of the Commissions are beyond our control and we can provide no assurances that our rate increase requests will be granted by the Commissions. Even if approved, there is no guarantee that approval will be given in a timely manner or at a sufficient level to cover our expenses and provide a reasonable return on our investment. If the rate increase decisions are delayed, our earnings may be adversely affected.
Our evaluation of the probability of recovery of regulatory assets is subject to adjustment by regulatory agencies and any such adjustment could adversely affect our results of operations.
Regulatory decisions may also impact prospective revenues and earnings, affect the timing of the recognition of revenues and expenses and may overturn past decisions used in determining our revenues and expenses. Our management continually evaluates the anticipated recovery of regulatory assets and revenues subject to refund and provides for allowances and/or reserves as deemed necessary. Current accounting procedures allow us to defer certain costs if we believe it is probable that we will be allowed to recover those costs through future rate increases. If the Commissions determined that a portion of our assets were not recoverable in customer rates, we may suffer an asset impairment which would require a write down in such asset's valuation which would be recorded through operations.
If our assessment as to the probability of recovery through the ratemaking process is incorrect, the associated regulatory asset would be adjusted to reflect the change in our assessment or any regulatory disallowances. A change in our evaluation of the probability of recovery of regulatory assets or a regulatory disallowance of all or a portion of our cost could have a material adverse effect on our financial results.
Regulatory agencies may disagree with our valuation and characterization of certain of our assets.
If we determine that assets are no longer used or useful for utility operations, we may remove them from our rate base and subsequently sell those assets. If the Commissions disagree with our characterization, we could be subjected to penalties. Furthermore, there is a risk that the Commissions could determine that realized appreciation in property value should be awarded to customers rather than our stockholders.
Changes in laws, rules and policies of regulatory agencies can significantly affect our business.
Regulatory agencies may change their rules and policies for various reasons, including changes in the local political environment. In some states, regulators are elected by popular vote or are appointed by elected officials, and the results of elections may change the long-established rules and policies of an agency dramatically. For example, in 2001 regulation regarding recovery of increases in electrical rates changed in California. For over 20 years prior to 2001, the CPUC allowed recovery of electric rate increases under its operating rules. However, in 2003, the CPUC reinstated its policy to allow utilities to adjust their rates for rate changes by the power companies. The original decision by the CPUC to change its policy, as well as its subsequent decision to reinstate that policy, affected our business.
We rely on policies and regulations promulgated by the various state commissions in order to recover capital expenditures, maintain favorable treatment on gains from the sale of real property, offset certain production and operating costs, recover the cost of debt, maintain an optimal equity structure without over-leveraging, and have financial and operational flexibility to engage in non-regulated operations. If any of the Commissions with jurisdiction over us implements policies and regulations that do not allow us to accomplish some or all of the items listed above, our future operating results may be adversely affected.
In addition, legislatures may repeal, relax or tighten existing laws, or enact new laws that impact the regulatory agencies with jurisdiction over our business or affect our business directly. If changes in existing laws or the implementation of new laws limit our ability to accomplish some of our business objectives, our future operating results may be adversely affected.
We expect environmental health and safety regulation to increase, resulting in higher operating costs in the future.
Our water and wastewater services are governed by various federal and state environmental protection, health and safety laws and regulations. These provisions establish criteria for drinking water and for discharges of water, wastewater and airborne
substances. The EPA promulgates numerous nationally applicable standards, including maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for drinking water. We believe we are currently in compliance with all of the MCLs promulgated to date. Although we have a rigorous water quality assurance program in place, we cannot guarantee that we will continue to comply with all standards. If we violate any federal or state regulations or laws governing health and safety, we could be subject to substantial fines or otherwise sanctioned.
Environmental health and safety laws are complex and change frequently. They tend to become more stringent over time. As new or stricter standards are introduced, they could increase our operating costs. Although we would likely seek permission to recover these costs through rate increases, we can give no assurance that the Commissions would approve rate increases to enable us to recover these additional compliance costs.
We are required to test our water quality for certain chemicals and potential contaminants on a regular basis. If the test results indicate that our water exceeds allowable limits, we may be required either to commence treatment to remove the contaminant or to develop an alternate water source. Either of these results may be costly. Although we would likely seek permission to recover these through rate increases, there can be no assurance that the Commissions would approve rate increases to enable us to recover these additional compliance costs.
New and/or more stringent water quality regulations could increase our operating costs.
We are subject to water quality standards set by federal, state and local authorities that have the power to issue new regulations. Compliance with new regulations that are more stringent than current regulations could increase our operating costs.
On July 1, 2014, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) changed the water quality standard for chromium-6 in our water supply. The new standard requires us to have 10 parts per billion or less of chromium-6 in our California water supply. The CPUC authorized a memorandum account in 2014 to track all costs associated with compliance with the new chromium-6 standard. Although we would likely seek permission to recover additional costs of compliance through rate increases, we can give no assurance that the CPUC would approve rate increases to enable us to recover these additional compliance costs.
Legislation regarding climate change may impact our operations.
Future legislation regarding climate change may restrict our operations or impose new costs on our business. Our operations depend on power provided by other public utilities and, in emergencies, power generated by our portable and fixed generators. If future legislation limits emissions from the power generation process, our cost of power may increase. Any increase in the cost of power will be passed along to our California customers through the MCBA or included in our cost of service paid by our customers as requested in our GRC filings. While recovery of these costs is not guaranteed, we would expect recovery in the regulatory process.
Starting January 1, 2010, under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), all capital projects of a certain type (primarily wells, tanks, major pipelines and treatment facilities) will require mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. The cost to prepare the CEQA documentation and permit will add an estimated ten thousand dollars to such capital projects. This cost will be included in our capital cost and added to our rate base, which will be requested to be paid for by our customers. Any increase in the operating cost of the facilities will also be included in our cost of service paid by our customers as requested in our GRC filings. While recovery of these costs is not guaranteed, we would expect recovery in the regulatory process.
Cap and trade regulations were implemented in 2012 with the goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. While recovery of these costs is not guaranteed, we would expect recovery in the regulatory process.
We are party to a toxic contamination lawsuit which could result in us paying damages not covered by insurance.
We have been and may be in the future, party to water contamination lawsuits, which may not be fully covered by insurance.
The number of environmental and product-related lawsuits against other water utilities have increased in frequency in recent years. If we are subject to additional environmental or product-related lawsuits, we might incur significant legal costs and it is uncertain whether we would be able to recover the legal costs from customers or other third parties. In addition, if current California law regarding CPUC's preemptive jurisdiction over regulated public utilities for claims about compliance with California Department of Health Services and United States EPA water quality standards changes, our legal exposure may be significantly increased.
Risks Related to Our Business Operations
Wastewater operations entail significant risks.
While wastewater collection and treatment is not presently a major component of our revenues, wastewater collection and treatment involve many risks associated with damage to the surrounding environment. If collection or treatment systems fail or do not operate properly, untreated or partially treated wastewater could discharge onto property or into nearby streams and rivers,
causing property damage or injury to aquatic life, or even human life. Liabilities resulting from such damage could materially and adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
Demand for our water is subject to various factors and is affected by seasonal fluctuations.
Demand for our water during the warmer, dry months is generally greater than during cooler or rainy months due primarily to additional requirements for water in connection with irrigation systems, swimming pools, cooling systems and other outside water use. Throughout the year, and particularly during typically warmer months, demand will vary with temperature and rainfall levels. If temperatures during the typically warmer months are cooler than normal, or if there is more rainfall than normal, the demand for our water may decrease. Under the WRAM mechanism, lower water usage in our California operations impacts our cash flows in the year of usage, but results in higher cash flows in the following years.
In addition, governmental restrictions on water usage during drought conditions may result in a decreased demand for our water, even if our water reserves are sufficient to serve our customers during these drought conditions. The Commissions may not allow surcharges to collect lost revenues caused by customers' conservation during a drought. Regardless of whether we may surcharge our customers during a conservation period, they may use less water even after a drought has passed because of conservation patterns developed during the drought. Furthermore, our customers may wish to use recycled water as a substitute for potable water. If rights are granted to others to serve our customers recycled water, there will likely be a decrease in demand for our water.
Finally, changes in prevailing weather patterns due to climate change may affect customer demand. If increased ambient temperatures affect our service areas, water used for irrigation and cooling may increase. If rainfall patterns change, our customers may change their patterns of water use including the amount of outdoor irrigation and the type of landscape they install. Government agencies may also mandate changes to customer irrigation or landscape patterns in response to changes in weather and climate.
The adequacy of our water supplies depends upon a variety of factors beyond our control. Interruption in the water supply may adversely affect our earnings.
We depend on an adequate water supply to meet the present and future needs of our customers. Whether we have an adequate supply varies depending upon a variety of factors, many of which are partially or completely beyond our control, including:
the amount of water stored in reservoirs;
underground water supply from which well water is pumped;
availability from water wholesalers;
changes in the amount of water used by our customers;
legal limitations on water use such as rationing restrictions during a drought;
changes in prevailing weather patterns and climate; and
We purchase our water supply from various governmental agencies and others. Water supply availability may be affected by weather conditions, funding and other political and environmental considerations. In addition, our ability to use surface water is subject to regulations regarding water quality and volume limitations. If new regulations are imposed or existing regulations are changed or given new interpretations, the availability of surface water may be materially reduced. A reduction in surface water could result in the need to procure more costly water from other sources, thereby increasing our water production costs and adversely affecting our operating results if not recovered in rates on a timely basis.
There is strong scientific consensus that human activity including carbon emissions is changing the chemical and thermodynamic characteristics of the atmosphere and the earth's overall climate. Because scientific efforts have been global in nature, and because climate modeling has not yet been predictive on a local scale, there is tremendous uncertainty over the timing, extent, and types of impacts global climate change may have in our service areas. In addition, studies of tree ring data show long periods of drought conditions have occurred in the historical record in California but prior to our operation. Thus, we include potential climate change risks in our water supply planning activities. We also periodically review the climate change plans of our wholesalers to determine whether alternative supplies may be necessary in the future. However, we can give no assurance that replacement water supplies will be available at a reasonable cost or a cost acceptable to our customers and Commissions.
We have entered into long-term water supply agreements, which commit us to making certain minimum payments whether or not we purchase any water. Therefore, if demand is insufficient to use our required purchases we would have to pay for water we did not receive.
From time to time, we enter into water supply agreements with third parties and our business is dependent upon such agreements in order to meet regional demand. For example, we have entered into a water supply contract with the SFPUC that expires on June 30, 2034. We can give no assurance that the SFPUC, or any of the other parties from whom we purchase water, will renew our contracts upon expiration, or that we will not be subject to significant price increases under any such renewed contracts.
The parties from whom we purchase water maintain significant infrastructure and systems to deliver water to us. Maintenance of these facilities is beyond our control. If these facilities are not adequately maintained or if these parties otherwise default on their obligations to supply water to us, we may not have adequate water supplies to meet our customers' needs.
If we are unable to access adequate water supplies we may be unable to satisfy all customer demand, which could result in rationing. Rationing may have an adverse effect on cash flow from operations. We can make no guarantee that we will always have access to an adequate supply of water that will meet all required quality standards. Water shortages may affect us in a variety of ways. For example, shortages could:
adversely affect our supply mix by causing us to rely on more expensive purchased water;
adversely affect operating costs;
increase the risk of contamination to our systems due to our inability to maintain sufficient pressure; and
increase capital expenditures for building pipelines to connect to alternative sources of supply, new wells to replace those that are no longer in service or are otherwise inadequate to meet the needs of our customers and reservoirs and other facilities to conserve or reclaim water.
We may or may not be able to recover increased operating and construction costs on a timely basis, or at all, for our regulated systems through the ratemaking process. Although we can give no assurance, we may be able to recover certain of these costs from third parties that may be responsible, or potentially responsible, for groundwater contamination.
Changes in water supply costs impact our operations.
The cost to obtain water for delivery to our customers varies depending on the sources of supply, wholesale suppliers' prices, the quality of water required to be treated and the quantity of water produced to fulfill customer water demand. Our source of supply varies among our operating districts. Certain districts obtain all of their supply from wells; some districts purchase all of the supply from wholesale suppliers; and other districts obtain the supply from a combination of wells and wholesale suppliers. A small portion of supply comes from surface sources and is processed through Company-owned water treatment plants. On average, slightly more than half of the water we deliver to our customers is pumped from wells or received from a surface supply with the remainder purchased from wholesale suppliers. Water purchased from suppliers usually costs us more than surface supplied or well pumped water. The cost of purchased water for delivery to customers represented 34.8% and 34.0% of our total operating costs in 2017 and 2016, respectively. Water purchased from suppliers will require renewal of our contracts upon expiration and may result in significant price increases under any such renewed contracts.
Wholesale water suppliers may increase their prices for water delivered to us based on factors that affect their operating costs. Purchased water rate increases are beyond our control. In California, effective July 1, 2008, our ability to recover increases in the cost of purchased water changed with the adoption of the MCBA. With this change, actual purchased water costs are compared to authorized purchased water costs, with variances netted against the variances in purchased power, pump tax, and metered revenue, being recorded to revenue. The balance in the MCBA will be collected in the future by billing the net WRAM and MCBA accounts receivable balances over 12, 18, and 18+ month periods, which may have a short-term negative impact on cash flow.
Dependency upon adequate supply of electricity and certain chemicals could adversely affect our results of operations.
Purchased electrical power is required to operate the wells and pumps needed to supply water to our customers. Although there are back-up power generators to operate a number of wells and pumps in emergencies, an extended interruption in power could impact the ability to supply water. In the past, California has been subject to rolling power blackouts due to insufficient power supplies. There is no assurance we will not be subject to power blackouts in the future. Additionally, we require sufficient amounts of certain chemicals in order to treat the water we supply. There are multiple sources for these chemicals but an extended interruption of supply could adversely affect our ability to adequately treat our water.
Purchased power is a significant operating expense. During 2017 and 2016, purchased power expense represented 5.0% and 5.1%, respectively, of our total operating costs. These costs are beyond our control and can change unpredictably and substantially
as occurred in California during 2001 when rates paid for electricity increased 48%. As with purchased water, purchased power costs are included in the MCBA. Cash flows between rate filings may be adversely affected until the Commission authorizes a rate change, but earnings will be minimally impacted. Cost of chemicals used in the delivery of water is not an element of the MCBA, and therefore, variances in quantity or cost could impact the results of operations.
Our business requires significant capital expenditures to replace or improve aging infrastructure that are dependent on our ability to secure appropriate funding. If we are unable to obtain sufficient capital or if the rates at which we borrow increase, there would be a negative impact on our results of operations.
The water utility business is capital-intensive. We invest significant funds to replace or improve aging infrastructure such as property, plant and equipment. In addition, water shortages may adversely affect us by causing us to rely on more purchased water. This could cause increases in capital expenditures needed to build pipelines to secure alternative water sources. In addition, we require capital to grow our business through acquisitions. We fund our short-term capital requirements from cash received from operations and funds received from developers. We also borrow funds from banks under short-term bank lending arrangements. We seek to meet our long-term capital needs by raising equity through common or preferred stock issues or issuing debt obligations. We cannot give any assurance that these sources will continue to be adequate or that the cost of funds will remain at levels permitting us to earn a reasonable rate of return. In the event we are unable to obtain sufficient capital, our expansion efforts could be curtailed, which may affect our growth and may affect our future results of operations.
Our ability to access the capital markets is affected by the ratings of certain of our debt securities. Standard & Poor's Rating Agency issues a rating on California Water Service Company's ability to repay certain debt obligations. The credit rating agency could downgrade our credit rating based on reviews of our financial performance and projections or upon the occurrence of other events that could impact our business outlook. Lower ratings by the agency could restrict our ability to access equity and debt capital. We can give no assurance that the rating agency will maintain ratings which allow us to borrow under advantageous conditions and at reasonable interest rates. A future downgrade by the agency could also increase our cost of capital by causing potential investors to require a higher interest rate due to a perceived risk related to our ability to repay outstanding debt obligations.
While the majority of our debt is long term at fixed rates, we do have interest rate exposure in our short-term borrowings which have variable interest rates. We are also subject to interest rate risks on new financings. However, if interest rates were to increase on a long-term basis, our management believes that customer rates would increase accordingly, subject to approval by the appropriate commission. We can give no assurance that the Commission would approve such an increase in customer rates.
We are obligated to comply with specified debt covenants under certain of our loan and debt agreements. Failure to maintain compliance with these covenants could limit future borrowing, and we could face increased borrowing costs, litigation, acceleration of maturity schedules, and cross default issues. Such actions by our creditors could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Our inability to access the capital or financial markets could affect our ability to meet our liquidity needs at reasonable cost and our ability to meet long-term commitments. Changes in economic conditions in our markets could affect our customers' ability to pay for water services. Any of these could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.
We rely on our current credit facilities to fund short-term liquidity needs if internal funds are not available from operations. Specifically, given the seasonal fluctuations in demand for our water we commonly draw on our credit facilities to meet our cash requirements at times in the year when demand is relatively low. We also may occasionally use letters of credit issued under our revolving credit facilities. Disruptions in the capital and credit markets could adversely affect our ability to draw on our credit facilities. Our access to funds under our credit facilities is dependent on the ability of our banks to meet their funding commitments.
Many of our customers and suppliers also have exposure to risks that could affect their ability to meet payment and supply commitments. We operate in geographic areas that may be particularly susceptible to declines in the price of real property, which could result in significant declines in demand for our products and services. In the event that any of our significant customers or suppliers, or a significant number of smaller customers and suppliers, are adversely affected by these risks, we may face disruptions in supply, significant reductions in demand for our products and services, inability of customers to pay invoices when due, and other adverse effects that could negatively affect our financial condition, results of operations and/or cash flows.
Our operations and certain contracts for water distribution and treatment depend on the financial capability of state and local governments, and other municipal entities such as water districts. Major disruptions in the financial strength or operations of such entities, such as liquidity limitations, bankruptcy or insolvency, could have an adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business and/or enforce our rights under contracts to which such entities are a party.
We are a holding company that depends on cash flow from our subsidiaries to meet our obligations and to pay dividends on our common stock.
As a holding company, we conduct substantially all of our operations through our subsidiaries and our only significant assets are investments in those subsidiaries. 93.9% of our revenues are derived from the operations of California Water Service Company. As a result, we are dependent on cash flow from our subsidiaries, and California Water Service Company in particular, to meet our obligations and to pay dividends on our common stock.
Our subsidiaries are separate and distinct legal entities and generally have no obligation to pay any amounts due on California Water Service Group's debt or to provide California Water Service Group with funds for dividends. Although there are no contractual or regulatory restrictions on the ability of our subsidiaries to transfer funds to us, the reasonableness of our capital structure is one of the factors considered by state and local regulatory agencies in their ratemaking determinations. Therefore, transfer of funds from our subsidiaries to us for the payment of our obligations or dividends may have an adverse effect on ratemaking determinations. Furthermore, our right to receive cash or other assets upon the liquidation or reorganization of a subsidiary is generally subject to the prior claims of creditors of that subsidiary. If we are unable to obtain funds from our subsidiaries in a timely manner, we may be unable to meet our obligations or pay dividends.
We can make dividend payments only from our surplus (the excess, if any, of our net assets over total paid-in capital) or if there is no surplus, the net profits for the current fiscal year or the fiscal year before which the dividend is declared. In addition, we can pay cash dividends only if after paying those dividends we would be able to pay our liabilities as they become due. Owners of our capital stock cannot force us to pay dividends and dividends will only be paid if and when declared by our board of directors. Our board of directors can elect at any time, and for an indefinite duration, not to declare dividends on our capital stock.
An important element of our growth strategy is the acquisition of water and wastewater systems. Risks associated with potential acquisitions, divestitures or restructurings may adversely affect us.
We may seek to acquire or invest in other companies, technologies, services or products that complement our business. The execution of our growth strategy may expose us to different risks than those associated with our utility operations. We can give no assurance that we will succeed in finding attractive acquisition candidates or investments, or that we would be able to reach mutually agreeable terms with such parties. In addition, as consolidation becomes more prevalent in the water and wastewater industries, the prices for suitable acquisition candidates may increase to unacceptable levels and limit our ability to grow through acquisitions. If we are unable to find acquisition candidates or investments, our ability to grow may be limited.
Acquisition and investment transactions may result in the issuance of our equity securities that could be dilutive if the acquisition or business opportunity does not develop in accordance with our business plan. They may also result in significant write-offs and an increase in our debt. The occurrence of any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Any of these transactions could involve numerous additional risks, including one or more of the following:
problems integrating the acquired operations, personnel, technologies or products with our existing businesses and products;
liabilities inherited from the acquired companies' prior business operations;
diversion of management time and attention from our core business to the acquired business;
failure to retain key technical, management, sales and other personnel of the acquired business;
difficulty in retaining relationships with suppliers and customers of the acquired business; and
difficulty in getting required regulatory approvals.
In addition, the businesses and other assets we acquire may not achieve the sales and profitability expected. The occurrence of one or more of these events may have a material adverse effect on our business. There can be no assurance that we will be successful in overcoming these or any other significant risks encountered.
We may not be able to increase or sustain our recent growth rate, and we may not be able to manage our future growth effectively.
We may be unable to continue to expand our business or manage future growth. To successfully manage our growth and handle the responsibilities of being a public company, we must effectively:
hire, train, integrate and manage additional qualified engineers for engineering design and construction activities, new business personnel, and financial and information technology personnel;
retain key management, augment our management team, and retain qualified and certified water and wastewater system operators;
implement and improve additional and existing administrative, financial and operations systems, procedures and controls;
expand our technological capabilities; and
manage multiple relationships with our customers, regulators, suppliers and other third parties.
If we are unable to manage our growth effectively, we may not be able to take advantage of market opportunities, satisfy customer requirements, execute our business plan or respond to competitive pressures.
We have a number of large-volume commercial and industrial customers and a significant decrease in consumption by one or more of these customers could have an adverse effect on our operating results and cash flows.
Our billed revenues and cash flows from operations will decrease if a significant business or industrial customer terminates or materially reduces its use of our water. Approximately $161.7 million, or 24.3%, of our 2017 water utility revenues was derived from business and industrial customers. However, if any of our large business or industrial customers in California reduce or cease its consumption of our water, the impact to net operating income would be minimal to our operations due to the WRAM and MCBA, but could impact our cash flows. In Hawaii, we serve a number of large resorts which if their water usage was reduced or ceased could have a material impact to our Hawaii operation. The delay between such date and the effective date of the rate relief may be significant and could adversely affect our operating results and cash flows.
Our operating cost and costs of providing services may rise faster than our revenues.
Our ability to increase rates over time is dependent upon approval of such rate increases by the Commissions, or in the case of the City of Hawthorne and the City of Commerce, the City Council, which may be inclined, for political or other reasons, to limit rate increases. However, our costs, which are subject to market conditions and other factors, may increase significantly. The second largest component of our operating costs after water production is made up of salaries and wages. These costs are affected by the local supply and demand for qualified labor. Other large components of our costs are general insurance, workers compensation insurance, employee benefits and health insurance costs. These costs may increase disproportionately to rate increases authorized by the Commissions and may have a material adverse effect on our future results of operations.
Demand for our stock may fluctuate due to circumstances beyond our control.
We believe that stockholders invest in public utility stocks, in part, because they seek reliable dividend payments. If there is an over-supply of stock of public utilities in the market relative to demand by such investors, the trading price of our securities could decrease. Additionally, if interest rates rise above the dividend yield offered by our equity securities, demand for our stock, and consequently its market price, may also decrease. A decline in demand for our stock may have a negative impact on our ability to finance capital projects.
Adverse investment returns and other factors may increase our pension liability and pension funding requirements.
A substantial number of our employees are covered by a defined benefit pension plan. At present, the pension plan is underfunded because our projected pension benefit obligation exceeds the aggregate fair value of plan assets. Under applicable law, we are required to make cash contributions to the extent necessary to comply with minimum funding levels imposed by regulatory requirements. The amount of such required cash contribution is based on an actuarial valuation of the plan. The funded status of the plan can be affected by investment returns on plan assets, discount rates, mortality rates of plan participants, pension reform legislation and a number of other factors. There can be no assurance that the value of our pension plan assets will be sufficient to cover future liabilities. Although we have made contributions to our pension plan in recent years, it is possible that we could incur a pension liability adjustment, or could be required to make additional cash contributions to our pension plan, which would reduce the cash available for business and other needs.
Labor relations matters could adversely affect our operating results.
At December 31, 2017, 750 of our 1,176 total employees were union employees. Most of our unionized employees are represented by the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, except certain engineering and laboratory employees who are represented by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, AFL-CIO.
We believe our labor relations are good, but in light of rising costs for health care and pensions, contract negotiations in the future may be difficult. Furthermore, changes in applicable law or regulations could have an adverse effect on management's negotiating position with respect to our currently unionized employees and/or employees that decide to unionize in the future. We are subject to a risk of work stoppages and other labor relations matters as we negotiate with the unions to address these issues,
which could affect our results of operations and financial condition. We can give no assurance that issues with our labor forces will be resolved favorably to us in the future or that we will not experience work stoppages.
We depend significantly on the services of the members of our management team, and the departure of any of those persons could cause our operating results to suffer.
Our success depends significantly on the continued individual and collective contributions of our management team. The loss of the services of any member of our management team could have an adverse effect on our business as our management team has knowledge of our industry and customers and would be difficult to replace.
Our operations are geographically concentrated in California and this lack of diversification may negatively impact our operations.
Although we own facilities in a number of states, over 93.9% of our operations are located in California. As a result, we are largely subject to weather, political, water supply, labor, energy cost, regulatory and economic risks affecting California.
We are also affected by the real property market in California. In order to grow our business, we may need to acquire additional real estate or rights to use real property owned by third parties, the cost of which tends to be higher and more volatile in California than in other states. The value of our assets in California may decline if there is a decline in the California real estate market which results in a significant decrease in real property values.
The effects of natural disasters, terrorist activity, pandemics, or poor water quality or contamination to our water supply may result in disruption in our services and litigation which could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.
We operate in areas that are prone to earthquakes, fires, mudslides and other natural disasters. A significant seismic event or other natural disaster in California where our operations are concentrated could adversely impact our ability to deliver water and adversely affect our costs of operations. A major disaster could damage or destroy substantial capital assets. The CPUC has historically allowed utilities to establish a catastrophic event memorandum account as another possible mechanism to recover costs. However, we can give no assurance that the CPUC or any other commission would allow any such cost recovery mechanism in the future.
Our water supplies are subject to contamination, including contamination from the development of naturally-occurring compounds, chemicals in groundwater systems, pollution resulting from man-made sources, such as MTBE, sea water incursion and possible terrorist attacks. If our water supply is contaminated, we may have to interrupt the use of that water supply until we are able to substitute the flow of water from an uncontaminated water source. In addition, we may incur significant costs in order to treat the contaminated source through expansion of our current treatment facilities, or development of new treatment methods. If we are unable to substitute water supply from an uncontaminated water source, or to adequately treat the contaminated water source in a cost-effective manner, there may be an adverse effect on our revenues, operating results and financial condition. The costs we incur to decontaminate a water source or an underground water system could be significant and may not be recoverable in rates. We could also be held liable for consequences arising out of human exposure to hazardous substances in our water supplies or other environmental damage. For example, private plaintiffs have the right to bring personal injury or other toxic tort claims arising from the presence of hazardous substances in our drinking water supplies. Our insurance policies may not be sufficient to cover the costs of these claims.
We operate a dam. If the dam were to fail for any reason, we would lose a water supply and flooding likely would occur. Whether or not we were responsible for the dam's failure, we could be sued. We can give no assurance that we would be able to successfully defend such a suit.
In light of the threats to the nation's health and security ensuing in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, we have taken steps to increase security measures at our facilities and heighten employee awareness of threats to our water supply. We have also tightened our security measures regarding the delivery and handling of certain chemicals used in our business. We have and will continue to bear increased costs for security precautions to protect our facilities, operations and supplies. These costs may be significant. Despite these tightened security measures, we may not be in a position to control the outcome of terrorist events should they occur.
We depend upon our skilled and trained workforce to ensure water delivery. Were a pandemic to occur, we can give no assurance that we would be able to maintain sufficient manpower to ensure uninterrupted service in all of the districts that we serve.
We retain certain risks not covered by our insurance policies.
We evaluate our risks and insurance coverage annually. Our evaluation considers the costs, risks and benefits of retaining versus insuring various risks as well as the availability of certain types of insurance coverage. Furthermore, we are also affected by increases in prices for insurance coverage; in particular, we have been, and will continue to be, affected by rising health insurance costs. Retained risks are associated with deductible limits, partial self-insurance programs and insurance policy coverage ceilings. If we suffer an uninsured loss, we may be unable to pass all, or any portion, of the loss on to customers because our rates are regulated by regulatory commissions. Consequently, uninsured losses may negatively affect our financial condition, liquidity and results of operations. There can be no assurance that we will not face uninsured losses pertaining to the risks we have retained.
We rely on our information technology ("IT") and a number of complex business systems to assist with the management of our business and customer and supplier relationships, and a disruption of these systems could adversely affect our business.
Our IT systems are an integral part of our business, and a serious disruption of our IT systems could significantly limit our ability to manage and operate our business efficiently, which, in turn, could cause our business and competitive position to suffer and adversely affect our results of operations. We depend on our IT systems to bill customers, process orders, provide customer service, manage construction projects, manage our financial records, track assets, remotely monitor certain of our plants and facilities and manage human resources, inventory and accounts receivable collections. Our IT systems also enable us to purchase products from our suppliers and bill customers on a timely basis, maintain cost-effective operations and provide service to our customers. Some of our mission and business critical IT systems are older, such as our SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system. Although we do not believe that our IT systems are at a materially greater risk of cyber security incidents than other similar organizations, our IT systems remain vulnerable to damage or interruption from:
power loss, computer systems failures, and internet, telecommunications or data network failures;
operator negligence or improper operation by, or supervision of, employees;
physical and electronic loss of customer data due to security breaches, cyber attacks, misappropriation and similar events;
intentional security breaches, hacking, denial of services actions, misappropriation of data and similar events; and
earthquakes, floods, fires, mudslides and other natural disasters.
These events may result in physical and/or electronic loss of customer or financial data, security breaches, misappropriation and other adverse consequences. In addition, the lack of redundancy for certain of our IT systems, including billing systems, could exacerbate the impact of any of these events on us.
In addition, we may not be successful in developing or acquiring technology that is competitive and responsive to the needs of our business, and we might lack sufficient resources to make the necessary upgrades or replacements of our outdated existing technology to allow us to continue to operate at our current level of efficiency.
The accuracy of our judgments and estimates about financial and accounting matters will impact our operating results and financial condition.
We make certain estimates and judgments in preparing our financial statements regarding, among others:
the useful life of intangible rights;
the number of years to depreciate certain assets;
amounts to set aside for uncollectible accounts receivable, inventory obsolescence and uninsured losses;
our legal exposure and the appropriate accrual for claims, including medical claims and workers' compensation claims;
future costs and assumptions for pensions and other postretirement benefits;
regulatory recovery of regulatory assets;
possible tax uncertainties; and
projected collections of WRAM and MCBA receivables.
The quality and accuracy of those estimates and judgments will have an impact on our operating results and financial condition.
In addition, we must estimate unbilled revenues and costs as of the end of each accounting period. If our estimates are not accurate, we will be required to make an adjustment in a future period. Accounting rules permit us to use expense balancing accounts and memorandum accounts that include cost changes to us that are different from amounts incorporated into the rates approved by the Commissions. These accounts result in expenses and revenues being recognized in periods other than in which they occurred.
Municipalities, water districts and other public agencies may condemn our property by eminent domain action.
State statutes allow municipalities, water districts and other public agencies to own and operate water systems. These agencies are empowered to condemn water systems or real property owned by privately owned public utilities in certain circumstances and in compliance with California and federal law. Additionally, whenever a public agency constructs facilities to extend its utility system into the service area of a privately owned public utility, such an act may constitute the taking of property and require reimbursement to the public utility for its loss. If a public agency were to file an eminent domain lawsuit against us, we would incur substantial attorney’s fees, consultant and expert fees and other costs in considering a challenge to the right to take our utility property and/or its valuation for just compensation, as well as such fees and costs in any subsequent litigation if necessary. If the public agency prevailed and acquired our utility property, we would be entitled to just compensation for our loss, but we would no longer have access to the condemned property or water system. Neither would we be entitled to any portion of revenue generated from the use of such asset going forward.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.
Item 2. Properties.
Our physical properties consist of offices and water facilities to accomplish the production, storage, treatment, and distribution of water. These properties are located in or near the geographic service areas listed above in Item 1, "Business—Geographical Service Areas and Number of Customer Connections at Year-end." Our headquarters, which houses accounting, engineering, information systems, human resources, purchasing, regulatory, water quality, and executive staff, is located in San Jose, California.
The real properties owned are held in fee simple title. Properties owned by Cal Water are subject to the lien of an Indenture of Mortgage and Deed of Trust dated March 16, 2016, October 13, 2015, November 17, 2010, and April 17, 2009 (the California Indenture), securing Cal Water's First Mortgage Bonds, of which $521.4 million was outstanding at December 31, 2017. The California Indenture contains certain restrictions common to such types of instruments regarding the disposition of property and includes various covenants and restrictions. At December 31, 2017, our California utility was in compliance with the covenants of the California Indenture.
Cal Water owns 602 wells and operates ten leased wells. There are 444 owned storage tanks with a capacity of 278 million gallons, two leased storage tanks with a capacity of 0.4 million gallons, 30 managed storage tanks with a capacity of 32.4 million gallons, and three surface water reservoirs with a capacity of 220 million gallons. Cal Water owns and operates six surface water treatment plants with a combined capacity of 46 million gallons per day. There are 5,834 miles of supply and distribution mains in the various systems.
Hawaii Water owns 22 wells and manages two irrigation wells. There are 24 storage tanks with a storage capacity of 20.1 million gallons. There are 70 miles of supply and distribution lines. Hawaii Water operates five wastewater treatment facilities with a combined capacity to process approximately 1.8 million gallons per day. There are 26 miles of sewer collection mains.
Washington Water owns 350 wells and manages 57 wells. There are 137 owned storage tanks and 18 managed storage tanks with a storage capacity of 9.5 million gallons. There are 405 miles of supply and distribution lines.
New Mexico Water owns 19 wells. There are 17 storage tanks with a storage capacity of 4.3 million gallons. There are 145 miles of supply and distribution lines. New Mexico operates two waste water treatment facilities with a combined capacity to process 0.6 million gallons per day. There are 34 miles of sewer collection mains.
Washington Water has long-term bank loans that are secured primarily by utility plant owned by Washington Water.
In the leased City of Hawthorne and City of Commerce systems or in systems that are operated under contract for municipalities or private companies, title to the various properties is held exclusively by the municipality or private company.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings.
Information with respect to this item may be found under the subheading "Commitments and Contingencies" in Note 14 to the consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8, which is incorporated herein by reference.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.
Our common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "CWT." At December 31, 2017, there were 48,012,432 common shares outstanding. There were 1,934 common stockholders of record as of February 12, 2018.
During 2017, we paid a cash dividend of $0.7200 per common share, or $0.1800 per quarter. During 2016, we paid a cash dividend of $0.6900 per common share, or $0.1725 per quarter. On January 31, 2018, our Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.1875 per common share payable on February 23, 2018, to stockholders of record on February 12, 2018. This represents our 51st consecutive year of increasing the annual dividend and marks the 292nd consecutive quarterly dividend.
We presently intend to pay quarterly cash dividends in the future consistent with past practices, subject to our earnings and financial condition, restrictions set forth in our debt instruments, regulatory requirements and such other factors as our Board of Directors may deem relevant.
During 2017 and 2016, the common stock market price range and dividends per share for each quarter were as follows:
Common stock market price range:
Dividends paid per common share
Common stock market price range:
Dividends paid per common share
Five-Year Performance Graph
The following performance graph compares the changes in the cumulative shareholder return on California Water Service Group's common stock with the cumulative total return on the Robert W. Baird Water Utility Index and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index during the last five years ended December 31, 2017. The comparison assumes $100 was invested on December 31, 2012, in California Water Service Group's common stock and in each of the forgoing indices and assumes reinvestment of dividends.
Performance Graph Data
The following descriptive data is supplied in accordance with Rule 304(d) of Regulations S-T:
California Water Service Group
RW Baird Water Utility Index
An initial $100 investment in the common stock of California Water Service Group on December 31, 2012 including reinvestment of dividends would be worth $284 at the end of the 5-year period ending December 31, 2017.
Item 6. Selected Financial Data.
The following selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with our Consolidated Financial Statements and the Notes thereto and the information contained in Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations."
Historical results are not necessarily indicative of future results.
FIVE YEAR FINANCIAL REVIEW
(Dollars in thousands, except per common share and other data)
Summary of Operations
MCBA net adjustment to increase (decrease) revenue
Total operating revenue
Total operating expenses
Interest expense, other income and expenses, net
Common Share Data
Earnings per share—diluted
Dividend payout ratio
Book value per share
Market price at year-end
Common shares outstanding at year-end (in thousands)
Return on average common stockholders' equity
Long-term debt interest coverage
Balance Sheet Data
Net utility plant
Long-term debt including current portion*
Common stockholders' equity*
Estimated water production (million gallons)
Wells and surface supply
Total estimated water production
Customers at year-end**
New customers added
Revenue per customer
Utility plant per customer
Employees at year-end
* The five year financial review for 2015, 2014, and 2013 reflect the retrospective adoption of ASU 2015-03, which requires that debt issuance costs related to a recognized debt liability be presented in the balance sheet as a direct deduction from the carrying amount of that debt liability, consistent with debt discounts. The Company adopted this guidance effective January 1, 2016.
** Includes customers of the City of Hawthorne and City of Commerce
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
In 2017 and 2016, net income was $67.2 million and $48.7 million, respectively. Diluted earnings per share increased $0.39 to $1.40 or 38.6% from 2016 to 2017. The $18.5 million increase in net income was primarily the result of increased rates adopted in the recent California GRC, a decrease in other operations expense, which included a GRC settlement agreement to write-off $3.2 million associated with a canceled water supply project in Bakersfield in 2016, and a $2.5 million increase in estimated unbilled revenue in 2017. These decreases were partially offset by increases in depreciation and amortization, employee wage, property tax, and net interest expenses. Net other income increased $3.5 million to $6.5 million in 2017, due primarily to the authorization of allowance for equity funds used during construction and unrealized gains on certain benefit plan investments.
In 2016 and 2015, net income was $48.7 million and $45.0 million, respectively. Diluted earnings per share increased $0.07 to $1.01 or 7.5% from 2015 to 2016. The $3.7 million increase in net income was primarily a result of a $2.8 million net resolution of several regulatory memorandum and balancing accounts in the Cal Water 2015 GRC settlement agreement, a $1.9 million increase from the recovery of prior years’ incremental drought program costs, and a $1.7 million increase in estimated unbilled revenue in 2016. These increases were partially offset by increases in other operations expense, which included a GRC settlement agreement to write-off $3.2 million associated with a canceled water supply project in Bakersfield, increases in depreciation and amortization, maintenance, property tax, employee wage, and net interest expenses. Net other income increased $1.9 million to $3.0 million in 2016, due primarily to the resolution of $1.5 million of litigation proceeds in the GRC settlement agreement and unrealized gains on certain benefit plan investments.
We plan to continue to seek rate relief to recover our operating cost increases and receive reasonable returns on invested capital. We expect to fund our long-term capital needs through a combination of debt, common stock offerings, and cash flow from operations.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
We maintain our accounting records in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America and as directed by the Commissions to which our operations are subject. The process of preparing financial statements requires the use of estimates on the part of management. The estimates used by management are based on historic experience and an understanding of current facts and circumstances. A summary of our significant accounting policies is listed in Note 2 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements. The following sections describe those policies where the level of subjectivity, judgment, and variability of estimates could have a material impact on the financial condition, operating performance, and cash flows of the business.
Revenue generally includes monthly cycle customer billings for regulated water and wastewater services at rates authorized by the Commissions (plus an estimate for water used between the customer's last meter reading and the end of the accounting period) and billings to certain non-regulated customers at rates authorized by contract with government agencies.
The Company's regulated water and waste water revenue requirements are authorized by the Commissions in the states in which we operate. The revenue requirements are intended to provide the Company a reasonable opportunity to recover its cost of service and earn a return on investments.
For metered customers, Cal Water recognizes revenue from rates which are designed and authorized by the CPUC. Under the WRAM, Cal Water records the adopted level of volumetric revenues, which would include recovery of cost of service and a return on investments as established by the CPUC for metered accounts. The adopted volumetric revenue considers the seasonality of consumption of water based upon historical averages. The variance between adopted volumetric revenues and actual billed volumetric revenues for metered accounts is recorded as a component of revenue with an offsetting entry to a regulatory asset or liability balancing account (tracked individually for each Cal Water district) subject to certain criteria under the accounting for regulated operations. The variance amount represents amounts that will be billed or refunded to customers in the future. In addition to volumetric revenues, the revenue requirements approved by the CPUC include service charges, flat rate charges, and other items not subject to the WRAM.
Cost-recovery rates are designed to permit full recovery of certain costs allowed to be recovered by the Commissions. Cost-recovery rates such as the MCBA provides for recovery of adopted expense levels for purchased water, purchased power and pump taxes, as established by the CPUC. In addition, cost-recovery rates include recovery of cost related to water conservation programs and certain other operating expenses adopted by the CPUC. Variances (which include the effects of changes in both rate and volume for the MCBA) between adopted and actual costs are recorded as a component of revenue, as the amount of such variances will
be recovered from or refunded to our customers at a later date. Cost-recovery expenses are generally recognized when the expenses are incurred with no markup for return or profit.
The balances in the WRAM and MCBA assets and liabilities accounts will fluctuate on a monthly basis depending upon the variance between adopted and actual results. The recovery or refund of the WRAM is netted against the MCBA over- or under-recovery for the corresponding district and the deferred net balances are interest bearing at the current 90-day commercial paper rate. At the end of the calendar year, Cal Water files with the CPUC to refund or collect the balance in the accounts. The majority of under-collected net WRAM and MCBA receivable balances are collected over 12 and 18 months. Cal Water defers any net WRAM and MCBA revenues and associated costs whenever the net receivable balances are estimated to be collected more than 24 months after the respective reporting period in which it was recorded. The deferred net WRAM and MCBA revenue and associated costs were determined using forecasts of customer consumption trends in future reporting periods and the timing of when the CPUC will authorize Cal Water's filings to recover unbilled balances. Deferred revenues and associated costs are recorded in the periods when the collection is within 24 months of the respective reporting period.
Customers' meter reads occur on various business days throughout the month. As a result, there are unmetered or unbilled customer usage each month. The estimated unbilled revenue for monthly unmetered customer usage is recorded using the number of unbilled days for that month and average daily customer billing rate for the previous month. The average daily customer billing rate for the previous month fluctuates depending on customer usage. Estimated unbilled revenue is not included in the WRAM until it is billed.
Flat rate customers are billed in advance at the beginning of the service period. The revenue is prorated so that the portion of revenue applicable to the current period is included in that period's revenue, with the balance recorded as unearned revenue on the balance sheet and recognized as revenue when earned in the subsequent accounting period. Our unearned revenue liability was $0.7 million as of December 31, 2017 and was $0.8 million as of December 31, 2016. This liability is included in "other accrued liabilities" on our consolidated balance sheets.
Regulated Utility Accounting
Because we operate almost exclusively in a regulated business, we are subject to the accounting standards for regulated utilities. The Commissions in the states in which we operate establish rates that are designed to permit the recovery of the cost of service and a return on investment. We capitalize and record regulatory assets for costs that would otherwise be charged to expense if it is probable that the incurred costs will be recovered in future rates. Regulatory assets are amortized over the future periods that the costs are expected to be recovered. If costs expected to be incurred in the future are currently being recovered through rates, we record those expected future costs as regulatory liabilities. In addition, we record regulatory liabilities when the Commissions require a refund to be made to our customers over future periods.
Determining probability requires significant judgment by management and includes, but is not limited to, consideration of testimony presented in regulatory hearings, proposed regulatory decisions, final regulatory orders, and the strength or status of applications for rehearing or state court appeals.
If we determine that a portion of our assets used in utility operations is not recoverable in customer rates, we would be required to recognize the loss of the assets disallowed.
We account for income taxes using the asset and liability method. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for future tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities and their respective tax basis. We measure deferred tax assets and liabilities at enacted tax rates expected to apply to taxable income in the years in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. We recognize the effect on the deferred tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rate in the period that includes the enactment date. We also assess the likelihood that deferred tax assets will be recovered in future taxable income and, to the extent recovery is not probable, a valuation allowance would be recorded. In management's view, a valuation allowance was not required as of December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2016.
We anticipate that future rate actions by the regulatory commissions will reflect revenue requirements for the tax effects of temporary differences recognized, which have previously been passed through to customers. The regulatory commissions have granted the Company permission to reflect the normalization of the tax benefits of the federal accelerated methods and available Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) for all assets placed in service after 1980. ITCs are deferred and amortized over the lives of the related properties for book purposes. The CPUC requires flow through accounting for state deferred taxes.
On December 22, 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was enacted. Based on the accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America, the Company is required to re-measure deferred income taxes to reflect the corporate
income tax rate change from 35 percent to 21 percent as of the date of enactment. The re-measurement of the deferred income taxes resulted in an estimated excess deferred income tax liability of $108.0 million as of December 31, 2017. The TCJA will lower customer rates due to lower income tax expense recoveries and the refund of excess deferred income tax. These lower customer rates will be partially offset by the TCJA’s effect of increasing rate base in future years. The Company is working with state regulators on the refund process according to federal income tax normalization rules. There are aspects to the TCJA that contain technical matters that require management to interpret the legislation and make judgments until further guidance becomes available. As a result, changes in management’s judgments could materially affect amounts recognized in the financial statements.
Pension and Postretirement Health Care Benefits
We incur costs associated with our pension and postretirement health care benefits plans. To measure the expense of these benefits, our management must estimate compensation increases, mortality rates, future health cost increases and discount rates used to value related liabilities and to determine appropriate funding. Different estimates used by our management could result in significant variances in the cost recognized for pension and postretirement health care benefit plans. The estimates used are based on historical experience, current facts, future expectations, and recommendations from independent advisors and actuaries. We use an investment advisor to provide advice in managing the plan's investments. We anticipate any increases in funding for the pension benefits plans will be recovered in future rate filings, thereby mitigating the financial impact. We believe it is probable that future costs will be recovered in future rates and therefore have recorded a regulatory asset in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
Changes to the pension benefits actuarial assumptions can significantly affect pension costs, regulatory assets, and liabilities. The following table reflects the sensitivity of pension amounts reported for the year ended December 31, 2017, to changes in actuarial assumptions:
in Pension Benefits Actuarial Assumption
in 2017 Net Periodic
in Projected Benefit
Obligation as of
December 31, 2017
Long-term rate of return on plan assets
Rate of compensation increases
Cost of living adjustment
Long-term rate of return on plan assets
Rate of compensation increases
Results of Operations
Operating revenue in 2017 was $666.9 million, an increase of $57.5 million, or 9.4%, over 2016. Operating revenue in 2016 was $609.4 million, an increase of $21.0 million, or 3.6%, over 2015. The sources of changes in operating revenue were:
Dollars in millions
Net change due to rate changes, usage, and other (1)
MCBA revenue (2)
Other balancing account revenue (3)
Deferral of revenue (4)
In 2017, the operating revenue increase is due to rate increases (see table in Rates and Regulation section below) and an increase of $2.5 million in estimated unbilled revenue mostly due to a combination of higher average daily customer billing rates and an increase in unbilled days at the end of 2017 as compared to 2016. The operating revenue increase in 2016 resulted from rate increases and an increase of $2.6 million in estimated unbilled revenue mostly due an increase in unbilled days at the end of 2016 as compared to 2015.
The MCBA revenue increase in 2017 resulted from an increase in actual water production costs relative to adopted water production costs in 2017 as compared to 2016. The MCBA revenue decrease in 2016 resulted from a significant reduction in customer consumption in California caused by drought conditions. As required by the MCBA mechanism, the change in water production costs in California changes operating revenue in the same amount.
The other balancing accounts revenue consists of the pension, conservation and health care balancing account revenues. Pension and conservation balancing account revenues are the differences between actual expenses and adopted rate recovery. Health care balancing account revenue is 85% of the difference between actual health care expenses and adopted rate recovery. In 2017, the decrease in other balancing account revenue was due to a decrease in actual health care and conservation expenses relative to adopted in 2017, which was partially offset by an increase in actual pension expenses relative to adopted in 2017. In 2016, the decrease in revenue was due to a decrease in pension expense and a decrease in health care expenses relative to adopted amounts.
The deferral of revenue consists of amounts that are expected to be collected from customers beyond 24 months following the end of the accounting period in which these revenues were recorded. In 2017, the deferral increased in 2017 as compared to 2016 due to an increase in the balancing account revenue expected to be collected beyond 24 months. In 2016, the balancing account revenue expected to be collected beyond 24 months decreased as a result of drought surcharges.
Water Production Expenses
Water production expenses, which consist of purchased water, purchased power, and pump taxes, comprise the largest segment of total operating expenses. Water production costs accounted for 42.3% and 41.3%, of total operating costs in 2017 and 2016, respectively. The rates charged for wholesale water supplies, electricity, and pump taxes are established by various public agencies. As such, these rates are beyond our control.
The table below provides the change in water production expenses during the past 2 years:
Dollars in millions
Total water production expenses
The principal factors affecting water production expenses are the quantity, price and source of the water. Generally, water pumped from wells costs less than water purchased from wholesale suppliers.
The table below provides the amounts, percentage change, and source mix for the respective years:
% of Total
% of Total
% of Total
Millions of gallons (MG)
% change from prior year
% change from prior year
% change from prior year
% change from prior year
Purchased water expenses are affected by changes in quantities purchased, supplier prices, and cost differences between wholesale suppliers. The MCBA mechanism is designed to recover all incurred purchased water expenses.
For 2017, the $17.6 million increase in purchased water expenses is due to a 6.2% increase in purchased quantities and an overall blended wholesale water rates increase of 3.3% in 2017.
For 2016, the $13.0 million increase in purchased water expenses is due to a 1.4% increase in purchased quantities and an overall blended wholesale water rates increase of 6.2% in 2016. Purchased water expenses for 2016 was partially offset by lease water rights credits of $0.4 million.
Purchased power expenses are affected by the quantity of water pumped from wells and moved through the distribution system, rates charged by electric utility companies, and rate structures applied to usage during peak and non-peak times of the day or season. In 2017, purchased power expenses increased $1.7 million, or 6.2%, mainly due to 5.4% increase in well water production. In 2016, purchased power expenses decreased $0.7 million, or 2.5%, mainly due to 4.1% decrease in well water production.
Changes in climate change regulations could increase the cost of purchased power expenses which in turn would result in an increase in the rates our power suppliers charge us. Any change in pricing of our purchased power expenses in California would be recovered from our customers through the MCBA mechanism. Any change in power costs in other states would be requested to be recovered by the customers in those states. The impact of such legislation, is dependent upon the enacted date, the factors that impact our suppliers cost structure, and their ability to pass the costs to us in their approved tariffs. These items are not known at this time.
Administrative and General Expenses
Administrative and general expenses include payroll related to administrative and general functions, all employee benefits charged to expense accounts, insurance expenses, legal fees, expenses associated with being a public company, and general corporate expenses.
During 2017, administrative and general expenses increased $4.4 million or 4.5%, as compared to 2016. The increase was mostly due to increases in uninsured loss costs of $1.5 million, employee wages of $1.8 million, and employee pension and other postretirement benefit costs of $0.7 million. Employee pension benefit expenses are fully recovered in rates and are tracked in a balancing account, such that revenues are recovered on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to the amounts authorized in the 2015 GRC. Employee and retiree medical expenses are recovered in rates through a balancing account authorized in the 2015 GRC, such that revenues are recovered up to 85% of the variance between adopted and recorded expenses.
During 2016, administrative and general expenses decreased $14.6 million or 12.9%, as compared to 2015. The decrease was mostly due to decreases in employee pension and other postretirement benefit costs of $10.2 million, a decrease in California drought program costs of $3.0 million, and a decrease in uninsured loss costs of $0.9 million. The decreases were partially offset by employee wage increases of $1.1 million. Wage increases became effective January 1, 2016. Employee pension benefit expenses are fully recovered in rates and are tracked in a balancing account, such that revenues are recovered on a dollar-for-dollar basis
up to the amounts authorized in the 2012 GRC. Employee and retiree medical expenses are recovered in rates through a balancing account authorized in the 2012 GRC, such that revenues are recovered up to 85% of the variance between adopted and recorded expenses.
Other Operations Expenses
The components of other operations expenses include payroll, material and supplies, and contract service costs of operating the regulated water systems, including the costs associated with water transmission and distribution, pumping, water quality, meter reading, billing, operations of district offices, and water conservation programs.
During 2017, other operations expenses decreased $5.6 million, or 7.0%, compared to 2016. The decrease was mostly due to conservation program expense decreases of $4.3 million, the write-off of $3.2 million of capital costs in 2016, and $2.0 million of MCBA cost deferral associated with the deferral of operating revenue. The decreases were partially offset by employee wage increases of $1.3 million, the write-off of $1.1 million of costs in 2017 that were previously capitalized, state of Department of Public Health fee increase of $0.7 million, and a software maintenance and licensing cost increase of $0.7 million. Conservation program expenses are fully recovered in rates and are tracked in a balancing account if it is within the authorized amount, such that revenues are recovered on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to the amounts authorized in the 2015 GRC.
During 2016, other operations expenses increased $12.8 million, or 19.1%, compared to 2015. The increase was mostly due to $4.4 million of MCBA costs associated with the recognition of operating revenue that was deferred in prior years, the Cal Water 2015 settlement agreement included a $3.2 million write-off of capital costs, conservation program expense increases of $1.8 million, and employee wage increases of $0.7 million. The $3.2 million write-off of capital costs was for engineering design costs for a canceled Cal Water and City of Bakersfield water treatment plant project, previously recorded as property held for future use. Conservation program expenses are fully recovered in rates and are tracked in a balancing account if it is within the authorized amount, such that revenues are recovered on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to the amounts authorized in the 2012 GRC.
Maintenance expenses decreased $0.5 million, or 2.0%, in 2017, compared to 2016 due to decreased costs for repairs of transmission and distribution mains and services.
Maintenance expenses increased $1.5 million, or 7.1%, in 2016, compared to 2015 due to increased costs for repairs of transmission and distribution mains, tanks, and services.
Depreciation and Amortization
Depreciation and amortization increased $13.2 million in 2017, or 20.7%, mostly due to 2016 capital additions and an increase in the provision for depreciation expressed as a percentage of the aggregate depreciable asset balances from 2.7% in 2016 to 3.0% in 2017.
Depreciation and amortization increased $2.2 million in 2016, or 3.6%, mostly due to 2015 capital additions.
For 2017, income taxes increased $4.1 million, or 16.6%, as compared to 2016. The increase was mostly due to an increase in operating income in 2017 which was partially offset by an increase in the tax benefit from the flow through method of accounting for repairs deductions on state corporate income tax filings.
For 2016, income taxes increased $0.3 million, or 1.1%, as compared to 2015. The increase was mostly due to an increase in operating income in 2016 which was partially offset by an increase in the tax benefit from the flow through method of accounting for repairs deductions on state corporate income tax filings.
Property and Other Taxes
For 2017, property and other taxes increased $1.6 million, or 6.7%, as compared to 2016. The increase was mostly due to an increase in our assessed property values because of utility plant placed in service during 2016.
For 2016, property and other taxes increased $1.7 million, or 7.8%, as compared to 2015. The increase was mostly due to an increase in our assessed property values because of utility plant placed in service during 2015.
Non-Regulated Revenue and Expense, Net
In 2017, non-regulated income net of expenses increased $3.5 million, or 117.5%, as compared to 2016. The increase was due primarily to the implementation of allowance for equity funds used during construction in 2017 and a $2.0 million increase in unrealized gains on certain benefit plan investments.
In 2016, non-regulated income net of expenses increased $1.9 million, or 163.0%, as compared to 2015. The increase was mostly due to the recognition of $1.5 million of litigation proceeds from the Cal Water 2015 GRC settlement agreement and unrealized gains on certain benefit plan investments.
In 2017, net interest expense increased $3.4 million as compared to 2016. The increase relates to an increase in borrowings on the unsecured revolving credit facilities, which were used to fund capital expenditures and general corporate purposes.
In 2016, net interest expense, increased $3.2 million compared to 2015. The increase was mostly due to $100.0 million of First Mortgage Bonds issued in October 2015 and $50.0 million of First Mortgage Bonds issued in March 2016, which was partially offset by an increase in capitalized interest charged to construction projects in 2016.
Rates and Regulation
The following is a summary of 2017 rate filings. A description of the "Type of Filing" can be found in "Item 1 - Rates and Regulation" section above. California decisions and resolutions may be found on the CPUC website at www.cpuc.ca.gov.
Type of Filing
GRC and Offset Filings
2017 Expense Offset
2017 Rate Base Offset
2017 Rate Base Offset
AL 2248, 2256
2017 Expense Offset
2017 Rate Base Offset
2017 Expense Offset
2017 Expense Offset
The estimated impact of current and prior year rate changes on operating revenues compared to prior years is listed in the following table:
Dollars in millions
General Rate Case (a)
Step rate increases
Offset (purchased water/pump taxes)
Total rate increases
Includes rate changes for the Cal Water 2015 GRC decision in 2017, rate base offsets in 2017, 2016 and 2015, and Hawaii Water GRC decisions in 2017, 2016, and 2015.
Our source of supply varies among our operating districts. Certain districts obtain all of their supply from wells; some districts purchase all of their supply from wholesale suppliers; and other districts obtain supply from a combination of wells and wholesale suppliers. A small portion of supply comes from surface sources and is processed through Company-owned water treatment plants. To the best of management's knowledge, we are meeting water quality, environmental, and other regulatory standards for all Company-owned systems.
California's normal weather pattern yields little precipitation between mid-spring and mid-fall. The Washington Water service areas receive precipitation in all seasons, with the heaviest amounts during the winter. New Mexico Water's rainfall is heaviest in the summer monsoon season. Hawaii Water receives precipitation throughout the year, with the largest amounts in the winter
months. Water usage in all service areas is highest during the warm and dry summers and declines in the cool winter months. Rain and snow during the winter months replenish underground water aquifers and fill reservoirs, providing the water supply for subsequent delivery to customers. Management believes that supply pumped from underground aquifers and purchased from wholesale suppliers will be adequate to meet customer demand during 2018 and beyond. However, water rationing may be required in future periods, if declared by the state or local jurisdictions. Long-term water supply plans are developed for each of our districts to help assure an adequate water supply under various operating and supply conditions. Some districts have unique challenges in meeting water quality standards, but management believes that supplies will meet current standards using current treatment processes.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Cash flow from Operations
During 2017, we generated cash flow from operations of $147.8 million, compared to $160.4 million during 2016. The decrease in 2017 was mostly due to an increase in the net WRAM and MCBA receivable in 2017 as actual customer usage was below adopted.
During 2016, we generated cash flow from operations of $160.4 million, compared to $145.0 million during 2015. The increase in 2016 was mostly due to rate increases as authorized by the Cal Water 2012 GRC decision.
The water business is seasonal. Billed revenue is lower in the cool, wet winter months when less water is used compared to the warm, dry summer months when water use is highest. This seasonality results in the possible need for short-term borrowings under the bank lines of credit in the event cash is not sufficient to cover operating and capital costs during the winter period. The increase in cash flow during the summer allows short-term borrowings to be paid down. Customer water usage can be lower than normal in years when more than normal precipitation falls in our service areas or temperatures are lower than normal, especially in the summer months. The reduction in water usage reduces cash flow from operations and increases the need for short-term bank borrowings. In addition, short-term borrowings are used to finance capital expenditures until long-term financing is arranged.
During 2017, 2016, and 2015, we used $259.2 million, $228.9 million and $176.8 million, respectively, of cash for capital expenditures, both Company-funded and developer-funded. The 2017 capital expenditures exceeded the high end of the budgeted capital expenditures of $230.0 million. Annual expenditures fluctuate each year due to the availability of construction resources and our ability to obtain construction permits in a timely manner. In 2017, we also received $56.0 million in TCP settlement proceeds.
During 2017, we borrowed $265.0 million, and paid down $87.0 million on our unsecured revolving credit facilities to fund capital expenditures and general corporate purposes. We also added $21.4 million of advances and contributions in aid of construction, which was reduced by refunds to developers of $8.4 million and repayment of $20.0 million for First Mortgage Bonds that matured in 2017.
During 2016, we sold $50.0 million of First Mortgage Bonds and used the net proceeds of $49.8 million to pay down short term borrowings. We also borrowed $145.1 million, and paid down $81.6 million on our unsecured revolving credit facilities to fund capital expenditures and general corporate purposes. We added $21.4 million of advances and contributions in aid of construction, which was reduced by refunds to developers of $6.9 million.
During 2015, we sold $100.0 million of First Mortgage Bonds and used the net proceeds of $99.3 million to pay down outstanding short-term borrowings and fund capital expenditures and general corporate purposes. We also borrowed $94.3 million, net of the expenses of $1.2 million, and paid down $141.0 million on our unsecured revolving credit facilities to fund capital expenditures and general corporate purposes. We added $16.0 million of advances and contributions in aid of construction, which were reduced by refunds to developers of $6.7 million.
On March 10, 2015, the Company and Cal Water entered into Syndicated Credit Agreements, which provide for unsecured revolving credit facilities of up to an initial aggregate amount of $450.0 million for a term of five years. The Company and subsidiaries that it designates may borrow up to $150.0 million under the Company’s revolving credit facility. Cal Water may borrow up to $300.0 million under its revolving credit facility; however, all borrowings need to be repaid within 24 months unless otherwise authorized by the CPUC. The credit facilities may each be expanded by up to $50.0 million subject to certain conditions. The proceeds from the revolving credit facilities may be used for working capital purposes, including the short-term financing of capital projects. The base loan rate may vary from LIBOR plus 72.5 basis points to LIBOR plus 95 basis points,
depending on the Company’s total capitalization ratio. Likewise, the unused commitment fee may vary from 8 basis points to 12.5 basis points based on the same ratio.
The under-collected net WRAM and MCBA receivable balances were $71.6 million, $39.2 million, and $42.0 million as of December 31, 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively. The increase of $32.4 million as of December 31, 2017 compared to the prior year was mostly due to actual customer usage being lower than adopted. The decrease of $2.8 million as of December 31, 2016 compared to the prior year was mostly due to $25.9 million of drought surcharges in 2016, which was partially offset by a 2.7% decrease in customer usage in California. The under-collected net WRAM and MCBA receivable balances were primarily financed by Cal Water with short-term and long-term financing arrangements to meet operational cash requirements. Interest on the under-collected net WRAM and MCBA receivable balances, the interest recoverable from customers, is limited to the current 90-day commercial paper rate, which is significantly lower than Cal Water's short and long-term financing rates.
Bond principal and other long-term debt payments were $26.8 million during 2017, $7.0 million during 2016, and $7.0 million during 2015.
At the January 2018 meeting, the Board of Directors declared the quarterly dividend, increasing it for the 51st consecutive year. The quarterly dividend was raised from $0.1800 to $0.1875 per common share, or an annual rate of $0.7500 per common share. Dividends have been paid for 72 consecutive years. The annual dividends paid per common share in 2017, 2016, and 2015 were $0.7200, $0.6900, and $0.6700, respectively. Earnings not paid as dividends are reinvested in the business for the benefit of stockholders. The dividend payout ratio was 51% in 2017, 68% in 2016 and 71% in 2015 for an average of 63% over the 3-year period. Our long-term targeted dividend payout ratio is 60%.
Short-term liquidity is provided by the bank lines of credit described above and by internally generated funds. Long-term financing is accomplished through the use of both debt and equity. As of December 31, 2017, there were short-term borrowings of $275.1 million outstanding on our unsecured revolving line of credit, compared to $97.1 million outstanding on our unsecured revolving line of credit as of December 31, 2016. As of December 31, 2016, there were short-term borrowings of $97.1 million outstanding on our unsecured revolving line of credit, compared to $33.6 million outstanding on our unsecured revolving line of credit as of December 31, 2015.
Given our ability to access our lines of credit on a daily basis, cash balances are managed to levels required for daily cash needs and excess cash is invested in short-term or cash equivalent instruments. Minimal operating levels of cash are maintained for Washington Water, New Mexico Water, and Hawaii Water.
The Company and subsidiaries which it designates may borrow up to $150.0 million under its short-term credit facility. Cal Water may borrow up to $300.0 million under its credit facility; however, all borrowings need to be repaid within 24 months unless otherwise authorized by the CPUC.
Both short-term credit agreements contain affirmative and negative covenants and events of default customary for credit facilities of this type including, among other things, limitations and prohibitions relating to additional indebtedness, liens, mergers, and asset sales. Also, these unsecured credit agreements contain financial covenants governing the Company and its subsidiaries' consolidated total capitalization ratio not to exceed 66.7% and interest coverage ratio of three or more. As of December 31, 2017, our consolidated total capitalization ratio was 56.5% (trade payable and short term borrowings are included as debt for this calculation) and the interest coverage ratio was greater than five. In summary, we have met all of the covenant requirements and are eligible to use the full amounts of these credit agreements.
Cal Water was authorized to issue $350.0 million of debt and common stock to finance capital projects and operations by a CPUC decision dated May 12, 2016. In addition, the decision retained $146.0 million of prior financing authority and determined that refinancing long-term debt did not count against the authorization. The CPUC requires that any loans from Cal Water to the Company be at arm’s length. This restriction did not materially impact the Company's ability to meet its cash obligations in 2017. Management does not expect this restriction to have a material impact on the Company's ability to meet its cash obligations in 2018 and beyond.
On March 16, 2016, Cal Water sold $50.0 million of First Mortgage Bonds and used the net proceeds of $49.8 million to pay down outstanding short-term borrowings, fund capital expenditures and for general corporate purposes. The Company made principal payments on First Mortgage Bonds and other long-term debt of $26.8 million during 2017. On October 13, 2015, Cal Water sold $100.0 million of First Mortgage Bonds and used the net proceeds of $99.3 million to pay down outstanding short-term borrowings, fund capital expenditures and for general corporate purposes. We made principal payments on First Mortgage Bonds and other long-term debt of $7.0 million during 2016. Long-term financing, which includes First Mortgage Bonds, senior
notes, other debt securities, and common stock, has typically been used to replace short-term borrowings and fund capital expenditures. Internally generated funds, after making dividend payments, provide positive cash flow, but have not been at a level to meet the needs of our capital expenditure requirements. Management expects this trend to continue given our capital expenditures plan for the next five years. Some capital expenditures are funded by payments received from developers for contributions in aid of construction or advances for construction. Funds received for contributions in aid of construction are non-refundable, whereas funds classified as advances in construction are refundable. Management believes long-term financing is available to meet our cash flow needs through issuances in both debt and equity instruments.
Additional information regarding the bank borrowings and long-term debt is presented in Notes 7 and 8 in the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
Off-Balance Sheet Transactions
We do not utilize off-balance-sheet financing or utilize special purpose entity arrangements for financing. We do not have equity ownership through joint ventures or partnership arrangements.
The contractual obligations presented in the table below represent our estimates of future payments under fixed contractual obligations and commitments. Changes in our business needs, cancellation provisions and changes in interest rates, as well as action by third parties and other factors, may cause these estimates to change. Therefore, our actual payments in future periods may vary from those presented in the table below. The following table summarizes our contractual obligations as of December 31, 2017.
1 - 3 Years
3 - 5 Years
Advances for construction
Pension and postretirement benefits(**)
Capital lease obligations(***)
Water supply contracts(****)
Excludes capital lease obligations as reported below. Also, excludes unamortized debt issuance costs of $4.5 million.
Pension and postretirement benefits include $2.0 million of short-term pension obligations.
Capital lease obligations represent total cash payments to be made in the future and include interest expense of $1.8 million.
Estimated annual contractual obligations are based on the same payment levels as 2017.
For pension and postretirement benefits other than pensions obligations, see Note 11 of the Notes to the consolidated Financial Statements.
Long-term debt payments include annual sinking fund payments on First Mortgage Bonds, maturities of long-term debt, and annual payments on other long-term obligations.
Advances for construction represent annual contract refunds to developers for the cost of water systems paid for by the developers. The contracts are non-interest bearing, and refunds are generally on a straight-line basis over a 40-year period. System and facility leases include obligations associated with leasing water systems and rents for office space.
For capital lease obligations, facility leases, and system lease, see Note 14 of the Notes to the consolidated Financial Statements.
Cal Water has water supply contracts with wholesale suppliers in 13 of its operating districts and for the two leased systems in Hawthorne and Commerce. For each contract, the cost of water is established by the wholesale supplier and is generally beyond our control. The amount paid annually to the wholesale suppliers is charged to purchased water expense on our statement of income. Most contracts do not require minimum annual payments and vary with the volume of water purchased. For more details related to water supply contracts, see Note 11 of the Notes to the consolidated Financial Statements.
Capital requirements consist primarily of new construction expenditures for expanding and replacing utility plant facilities and the acquisition of water systems. They also include refunds of advances for construction.
Company-funded and developer-funded utility plant expenditures were $259.2 million, $228.9 million, and $176.8 million in 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively. A majority of capital expenditures was associated with mains and water treatment equipment.
For 2018, the Company is estimating its capital expenditures to be between $200.0 million and $220.0 million based on the 2015 GRC in California and normal capital needs in the other subsidiaries. Capital expenditures in California are evaluated in the context of the pending GRC and may change as the case moves forward. We expect our annual capital expenditure to increase during the next five years due to increasing needs to replace and maintain infrastructure.
Management expects developer-funded expenditures in 2018. These expenditures will be financed by developers through refundable advances for construction and non-refundable contributions in aid of construction. Developers are required to deposit the cost of a water construction project with us prior to our commencing construction work, or the developers may construct the facilities themselves and deed the completed facilities to us. Funds are generally received in advance of incurring costs for these projects. Advances are normally refunded over a 40-year period without interest. Future payments for advances received are listed under contractual obligations above. Because non-Company-funded construction activity is solely at the discretion of developers, we cannot predict the level of future activity. The cash flow impact is expected to be minor due to the structure of the arrangements.
Common stockholders' equity was $693.5 million at December 31, 2017, compared to $659.5 million at December 31, 2016. In 2017, Cal Water repaid $20.0 million for First Mortgage Bonds that matured in 2017. The Company did not sell shares of its common stock in 2017.
Total capitalization, including the current portion of long-term debt, was $1,225.2 million at December 31, 2017 and $1,217.4 million at December 31, 2016. In future periods, the Company intends to issue common stock and long-term debt to finance our operations. The capitalization ratios will vary depending upon the method we choose to finance our operations.
At December 31, capitalization ratios were:
The return (from both regulated and non-regulated operations) on average common equity was 9.9% in 2017 compared to 7.5% in 2016. Cal Water does not include construction work in progress in its regulated rate base; instead, Cal Water was authorized to record AFUDC on construction work in progress, effective January 1, 2017. Construction work in progress for Cal Water was $167.2 million at December 31, 2017 and $127.4 million at December 31, 2016.
In 2017, 2016, and 2015 there were no significant acquisitions.
Real Estate Program
We own real estate. From time to time, certain parcels are deemed no longer used or useful for water utility operations. Most surplus properties have a low cost basis. We developed a program to realize the value of certain surplus properties through sale or lease of those properties. The program will be ongoing for a period of several years. There was a pre-tax gain of $0.6 million in 2017, a pre-tax loss of $0.1 million in 2016, and a pre-tax gain of $0.3 million in 2015. As sales are dependent on real estate market conditions, future sales, if any, may or may not be at prior year levels.
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk.
We do not participate in hedge arrangements, such as forward contracts, swap agreements, options, or other contractual agreements to mitigate the impact of market fluctuations on our assets, liabilities, production, or contractual commitments. We operate only in the United States and, therefore, are not subject to foreign currency exchange rate risks.
Interest Rate Risk
We are subject to interest rate risk, although this risk is lessened because we operate in a regulated industry. If interest rates were to increase, management believes customer rates would increase accordingly, subject to Commission approval in future GRC filings. The majority of our debt is long-term at a fixed rate. Interest rate risk does exist on short-term borrowings within our credit facilities, as these interest rates are variable. We also have interest rate risk on new financing, as higher interest cost may occur on new debt if interest rates increase.
Over the next 12 months, approximately $15.9 million of the $531.7 million of existing long-term debt instruments will mature or require sinking fund payments. Applying a hypothetical 10 percent increase in the rate of interest charged on those borrowings would not have a material effect on our earnings.
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.
REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM
To the shareholders and the Board of Directors of
California Water Service Group
San Jose, California
Opinions on the Financial Statements and Internal Control over Financial Reporting
We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of California Water Service Group and subsidiaries (the "Company") as of December 31, 2017 and 2016, the related consolidated statements of income, common stockholders' equity, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2017, and the related notes (collectively referred to as the "financial statements"). We also have audited the Company’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2017, based on criteria established in Internal Control - Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO).
In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as of December 31, 2017 and 2016, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2017, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Also, in our opinion, the Company maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2017, based on criteria established in Internal Control - Integrated Framework (2013) issued by COSO.
Basis for Opinions
The Company’s management is responsible for these financial statements, for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting, and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting, included in the accompanying Management's Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these financial statements and an opinion on the Company’s internal control over financial reporting based on our audits. We are a public accounting firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (PCAOB) and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.
We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audits to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud, and whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects.
Our audits of the financial statements included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures to respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. Our audits also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements. Our audit of internal control over financial reporting included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, and testing and evaluating the design and
operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk. Our audits also included performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinions.
Definition and Limitations of Internal Control over Financial Reporting
A company’s 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 for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.
Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.
/s/ DELOITTE & TOUCHE LLP
San Francisco, California
March 1, 2018
We have served as the Company's auditor since 2008.
CALIFORNIA WATER SERVICE GROUP
Consolidated Balance Sheets
(In thousands, except per share data)
Depreciable plant and equipment
Construction work in progress
Total utility plant
Less accumulated depreciation and amortization
Net utility plant
Cash and cash equivalents
Receivables: net of allowance for doubtful accounts of $773 and $830 in 2017 and 2016, respectively
Regulatory balancing accounts
Materials and supplies at weighted average cost
Taxes, prepaid expenses, and other assets
Total current assets
Total other assets
CAPITALIZATION AND LIABILITIES
Common stock, $0.01 par value; 68,000 shares authorized, 48,012 and 47,965 outstanding in 2017 and 2016, respectively
Additional paid-in capital
Total common stockholders' equity
Long-term debt, less current maturities
Current maturities of long-term debt
Regulatory balancing accounts
Accrued other taxes
Other accrued liabilities
Total current liabilities
Unamortized investment tax credits
Deferred income taxes
Pension and postretirement benefits other than pensions
Advances for construction
Contributions in aid of construction
Other long-term liabilities
Commitments and contingencies
TOTAL CAPITALIZATION AND LIABILITIES
See accompanying Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
CALIFORNIA WATER SERVICE GROUP
Consolidated Statements of Income
For the Years Ended December 31,
(In thousands, except per share data)
Administrative and general
Depreciation and amortization
Property and other taxes
Total operating expenses
Net operating income
Other income and expenses:
Allowance for equity funds used during construction
Gain (loss) on sale of non-utility property
Income tax expense on other income and expenses
Net other income
Allowance for borrowed funds used during construction
Net interest expense
Earnings per share:
Weighted average number of common shares outstanding:
See accompanying Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
CALIFORNIA WATER SERVICE GROUP
Consolidated Statements of Common Stockholders' Equity
For the Years Ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015
Balance at December 31, 2014
Issuance of common stock
Dividends paid on common stock ($0.670 per sh