Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies (Policies)

v3.21.1
Summary of Significant Accounting Policies (Policies)
3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2021
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Basis of Presentation and Principles of Consolidation
Basis of Presentation and Principles of Consolidation
The accompanying unaudited consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) and applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") regarding interim financial reporting. Certain information and note disclosures normally included in the financial statements prepared in accordance with GAAP have been condensed or omitted pursuant to such rules and regulations. As such, these unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes included in the Company’s annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020.
The consolidated financial statements reflect the accounts and operations of the Company and those of its subsidiaries, including Funds, in which the Company has a controlling financial interest. Beginning October 8, 2020, the Company's consolidated subsidiaries also included Vivint Solar, Inc. ("Vivint Solar"). The typical condition for a controlling financial interest ownership is holding a majority of the voting interests of an entity. However, a controlling financial interest may also exist in entities, such as variable interest entities (“VIEs”), through arrangements that do not involve controlling voting interests. In accordance with the provisions of Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) Accounting Standards Codification Topic 810 (“ASC 810”) Consolidation, the Company consolidates any VIE of which it is the primary beneficiary. The primary beneficiary, as defined in ASC 810, is the party that has (1) the power to direct the activities of a VIE that most significantly impact the VIE’s economic performance and (2) the obligation to absorb the losses of the VIE or the right to receive benefits from the VIE that could potentially be significant to the VIE. The Company evaluates its relationships with its VIEs on an ongoing basis to determine whether it continues to be the primary beneficiary. The consolidated financial statements reflect the assets and liabilities of VIEs that are consolidated. All intercompany transactions and balances have been eliminated in consolidation.
Use of Estimates
Use of Estimates
The preparation of the consolidated financial statements requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes. The Company regularly makes estimates and assumptions, including, but not limited to, revenue recognition constraints that result in variable consideration, the discount rate used to adjust the promised amount of consideration for the effects of a significant financing component, the estimates that affect the collectability of accounts receivable, the valuation of inventories, the useful lives of solar energy systems, the useful lives of property and equipment, the valuation and useful lives of intangible assets, the effective interest rate used to amortize pass-through financing obligations, the discount rate uses for operating and financing leases, the fair value of contingent consideration, the fair value of assets acquired and liabilities assumed in a business combination, the valuation of stock-based compensation, the determination of valuation allowances associated with deferred tax assets, the fair value of debt instruments disclosed and the redemption value of redeemable noncontrolling interests. The Company bases its estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions believed to be reasonable. Actual results may differ from such estimates.
Segment Information
Segment Information
The Company has one operating segment with one business activity, providing solar energy services and products to customers. The Company’s chief operating decision maker (“CODM”) is its Chief Executive Officer, who manages operations on a consolidated basis for purposes of allocating resources. When evaluating performance and allocating resources, the CODM reviews financial information presented on a consolidated basis.
Revenue from Customer Agreements includes payments by customers for the use of the system as well as utility and other rebates assigned by the customer to the Company in the Customer Agreement. Revenue from incentives includes revenue from the sale of commercial investment tax credits ("Commercial ITCs") and solar renewable energy credits (“SRECs”).
Cash and Restricted Cash
Cash and Restricted Cash
Restricted cash represents amounts related to obligations under certain financing transactions and future replacement of solar energy system components.
Accounts Receivable
Accounts Receivable
Accounts receivable consist of amounts due from customers, as well as state and utility rebates due from government agencies and utility companies. Under Customer Agreements, the customers typically assign incentive rebates to the Company.
Deferred Revenue, Revenue Recognition
Deferred Revenue
When the Company receives consideration, or when such consideration is unconditionally due, from a customer prior to delivering goods or services to the customer under the terms of a Customer Agreement, the Company records deferred revenue. Such deferred revenue consists of amounts for which the criteria for revenue recognition have not yet been met and includes amounts that are collected or assigned from customers, including upfront deposits and prepayments, and rebates. Deferred revenue relating to financing components represents the cumulative excess of interest expense recorded on financing component elements over the related revenue recognized to date and will eventually net to zero by the end of the initial term. Amounts received related to the sales of SRECs which have not yet been delivered to the counterparty are recorded as deferred revenue.
Revenue Recognition
The Company recognizes revenue when control of goods or services is transferred to its customers, in an amount that reflects the consideration it expected to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services.
Customer agreements and incentives
Customer agreements and incentives revenue is primarily comprised of revenue from Customer Agreements in which the Company provides continuous access to a functioning solar energy system and revenue from the sales of SRECs generated by the Company’s solar energy systems to third parties.
The Company begins to recognize revenue on Customer Agreements when permission to operate ("PTO") is given by the local utility company or on the date daily operation commences if utility approval is not required. Revenue recognition does not necessarily follow the receipt of cash. For Customer Agreements that include a fixed fee per month which entitles the customer to any and all electricity generated by the system, and for which the Company’s obligation is to provide continuous access to a functioning solar energy system, the Company recognizes revenue evenly over the time that it satisfies its performance obligations, which is over the initial term of the Customer Agreements. For Customer Agreements that charge a fixed price per kilowatt hour, and for which the Company’s obligation is the provision of electricity from a solar energy system, revenue is recognized based on the actual amount of power generated at rates specified under the contracts. Customer Agreements typically have an initial term of 20 or 25 years. After the initial contract term, Customer Agreements typically automatically renew on an annual basis.
SREC revenue arises from the sale of environmental credits generated by solar energy systems and is generally recognized upon delivery of the SRECs to the counterparty or upon reporting of the electricity generation. For pass-through financing obligation Funds, the value attributable to the monetization of Commercial ITCs are recognized in the period a solar energy system is granted PTO - see Note 10, Pass-through Financing Obligations.
In determining the transaction price, the Company adjusts the promised amount of consideration for the effects of the time value of money when the timing of payments provides it with a significant benefit of financing the transfer of goods or services to the customer. In those circumstances, the contract contains a significant financing component. When adjusting the promised amount of consideration for a significant financing component, the Company uses the discount rate that would be reflected in a separate financing transaction between the entity and its customer at contract inception and recognizes the revenue amount on a straight-line basis over the term of the Customer Agreement, and interest expense using the effective interest rate method.
Consideration from customers is considered variable due to the performance guarantee under Customer Agreements and liquidating damage provisions under SREC contracts in the event minimum deliveries are not achieved. Performance guarantees provide a credit to the customer if the system's cumulative production, as measured on various PTO anniversary dates, is below the Company's guarantee of a specified minimum. Revenue is recognized to the extent it is probable that a significant reversal of such revenue will not occur.
The Company capitalizes incremental costs incurred to obtain a contract in Other Assets in the consolidated balance sheets. These amounts are amortized on a straight-line basis over the term of the Customer Agreements, and are included in Sales and marketing in the consolidated statements of operations.
Solar energy systems and product sales
For solar energy systems sold to customers, revenue is recognized when the solar energy system passes inspection by the authority having jurisdiction, which inspection generally occurs after installation but prior to PTO, at which time the Company has met the performance obligation in the contract. For solar energy system sales that include delivery obligations up until interconnection to the local power grid with permission to operate, the Company recognizes revenue at PTO. The Company’s installation Projects are typically completed in less than twelve months.
Product sales consist of solar panels, racking systems, inverters, other solar energy products sold to resellers, roof repair, fees for extended services on solar energy systems sold to customers and customer leads. Product sales revenue is recognized at the time when control is transferred, upon shipment, or as services are delivered. Customer lead revenue, included in product sales, is recognized at the time the lead is delivered.
Taxes assessed by government authorities that are directly imposed on revenue producing transactions are excluded from solar energy systems and product sales.
Cost of Revenue
Customer agreements and incentives
Cost of revenue for customer agreements and incentives is primarily comprised of (1) the depreciation of the cost of the solar energy systems, as reduced by amortization of deferred grants, (2) solar energy system operations, monitoring and maintenance costs including associated personnel costs, and (3) allocated corporate overhead costs.
Solar energy systems and product sales
Cost of revenue for solar energy systems and non-lead generation product sales consist of direct and indirect material and labor costs for solar energy systems installations and product sales. Also included are engineering and design costs, estimated warranty costs, freight costs, allocated corporate overhead costs, vehicle depreciation costs and personnel costs associated with supply chain, logistics, operations management, safety and quality control. Cost of revenue for lead generations consists of costs related to direct-response advertising activities associated with generating customer leads.
Fair Value of Financial Instruments
Fair Value of Financial Instruments
The Company defines fair value as the exchange price that would be received for an asset or an exit price that would be paid to transfer a liability in the principal or most advantageous market for the asset or liability in an orderly transaction between market participants on the measurement date. The Company uses valuation approaches to measure fair value that maximize the use of observable inputs and minimize the use of unobservable inputs. The FASB establishes a three-tier fair value hierarchy for disclosure of fair value measurements as follows:
Level 1—Inputs are unadjusted, quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities at the measurement date;
Level 2—Inputs are observable, unadjusted quoted prices in active markets for similar assets or liabilities, unadjusted quoted prices for identical or similar assets or liabilities in markets that are not active, or other inputs that are observable or can be corroborated by observable market data for substantially the full term of the related assets or liabilities; and
Level 3—Inputs that are unobservable, significant to the measurement of the fair value of the assets or liabilities and are supported by little or no market data.

The Company's financial instruments include cash, receivables, accounts payable, accrued expenses, distributions payable to noncontrolling interests, derivatives, contingent consideration, and recourse and non-recourse debt.
Recently Issued and Adopted Accounting Standards
Recently Issued and Adopted Accounting Standards
Accounting standards adopted January 1, 2020:
In June 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-13, Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments, which replaces the current incurred loss impairment methodology with a current expected credit losses model. The amendment applies to entities that hold financial assets and net investment in leases that are not accounted for at fair value through net income as well as loans, debt securities, trade receivables, net investments in leases, off-balance sheet credit exposures, reinsurance receivables and any other financial assets not excluded from the scope that have the contractual right to receive cash. The Company adopted ASU No. 2016-13 effective January 1, 2020, using a modified retrospective transition method, which resulted in a cumulative-effect adjustment of $1.7 million for the establishment of a credit loss allowance for unbilled receivables related to Customer Agreements, as reflected in its consolidated statement of redeemable noncontrolling interests and stockholders' equity.
Accounting standards adopted January 1, 2021:
In January 2021, the FASB issued ASU No. 2021-01, Reference Rate Reform (Topic 848): Scope, which permits entities to elect certain optional expedients and exceptions when accounting for derivative contracts and certain hedging relationships affected by reference rate reform. This ASU is effective upon issuance and can generally be applied through December 31, 2022. The Company adopted ASU 2019-12 effective January 1, 2021, and there was no impact to its consolidated financial statements.
In November 2019, the FASB issued ASU No. 2019-12, Income Taxes (Topic 740), which simplifies the accounting for income taxes, primarily by eliminating certain exceptions to the guidance in ASC 740. The Company adopted ASU 2019-12 effective January 1, 2021, and there was no impact to its consolidated financial statements.
In August 2020, the FASB issued ASU No. 2020-06, Debt—Debt with Conversion and Other Options (Subtopic 470-20) and Derivatives and Hedging—Contracts in Entity's Own Equity (Subtopic 815-40), simplifies the accounting for convertible instruments and the application of the derivatives scope exception for contracts in an entity’s own equity. This ASU is effective for fiscal periods beginning after December 15, 2021. The Company adopted ASU 2020-06 effective January 1, 2021, and applied this guidance to the convertible senior notes issued in January 2021, see Note 8 Indebtedness, which allowed the Company to account for the notes and their underlying conversion feature as a liability. There was no other impact to the Company’s consolidated financial statements as a result of this adoption.
In March 2020, the FASB issued ASU No. 2020-04, Reference Rate Reform (Topic 848), Facilitation of the Effects of Reference Rate Reform on Financial Reporting, which provides optional expedients and exceptions for applying GAAP to contracts, hedging relationships, and other transactions affected by reference rate reform if certain criteria are met. The amendments apply only to contracts, hedging relationships, and other transactions that reference LIBOR or other reference rates that are expected to be discontinued because of reference rate reform. This ASU is available for adoption as of the beginning of the interim period that includes March 12, 2020 through
December 31, 2022, as contract modifications or hedging relationships entered into or evaluated after December 31, 2022 are excluded unless an entity has elected certain optional expedients for and that are retained through the end of the hedging relationship. For the Company’s cash flow hedges in which the designated hedged risk is LIBOR or another rate that is expected to be discontinued, the Company has adopted the portion of the guidance that allows it to assert that it remains probable that the hedged forecasted transaction will occur. The Company adopted the remainder of this guidance effective January 1, 2021, and there was no impact to its consolidated financial statements.