Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

v3.8.0.1
Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2017
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Basis of Presentation and Principles of Consolidation
The accompanying consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) and reflect the accounts and operations of the Company and those of its subsidiaries, including Funds, in which the Company has a controlling financial interest. 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
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 significant estimates and assumptions, including, but not limited to, 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 fair value of assets acquired and liabilities assumed in business combinations, the effective interest rate used to amortize lease pass-through financing obligations, the fair value used to value solar energy systems, 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
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.
Revenues from external customers (including, but not limited to homeowners) for each group of similar products and services are as follows (in thousands): 
 
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
Operating leases
 
$
174,664

 
$
125,197

 
$
86,332

Incentives
 
56,769

 
43,220

 
31,672

Operating leases and incentives
 
231,433

 
168,417

 
118,004

Solar energy systems
 
113,953

 
127,727

 
50,191

Products
 
184,313

 
157,754

 
136,411

Solar energy systems and product sales
 
298,266

 
285,481

 
186,602

Total revenue
 
$
529,699

 
$
453,898

 
$
304,606


Cash
Cash consists of bank deposits held in checking and savings accounts. The Company considers all highly liquid investments purchased with an original maturity of three months or less to be cash equivalents. The Company has exposure to credit risk to the extent cash balances exceed amounts covered by federal deposit insurance. The Company believes that its credit risk is not significant.
Restricted Cash
Restricted cash represents amounts related to replacement of solar energy system components and obligations under certain financing transactions.
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 arrangements with customers, the customers typically assign incentive rebates to the Company.
Accounts receivable are recorded at net realizable value. The Company maintains allowances for the applicable portion of receivables when collection becomes doubtful. The Company estimates anticipated losses from doubtful accounts based upon the expected collectability of all accounts receivables, which takes into account the number of days past due, collection history, identification of specific customer exposure, and current economic trends. Once a receivable is deemed to be uncollectible, it is written off. In 2017, 2016 and 2015, the Company recorded provision for bad debt expense of $2.1 million, $1.4 million and $2.0 million, respectively, and wrote-off uncollectible receivables of $1.6 million, $1.8 million and $1.1 million, respectively.
Accounts receivable, net consists of the following (in thousands):
 
 
December 31,
 
 
2017
 
2016
Customer receivables
 
$
68,243

 
$
50,811

Customer deposits
 
7,427

 
5,793

Other receivables
 
751

 
856

Rebates receivable
 
1,442

 
3,964

Allowance for doubtful accounts
 
(1,665
)
 
(1,166
)
Total
 
$
76,198

 
$
60,258


State Tax Credits Receivable
State tax credits receivable are recognized upon submission of the state income tax return.
Inventories
Inventories are stated at the lower of cost or net realizable value on a first-in, first-out basis. Inventories consist of raw materials such as photovoltaic panels, inverters and mounting hardware as well as miscellaneous electrical components that are sold as-is by the distribution operations and used in installations and work-in-process. Work-in-process primarily relates to solar energy systems that will be sold to customers, which are partially installed and have yet to pass inspection by the responsible city or utility department. For solar energy systems where the Company performs the installation, the Company commences transferring component parts from inventories to construction-in-progress, a component of solar energy systems, once a lease contract with a lease customer has been executed and the component parts have been assigned to a specific project. Additional costs incurred including labor and overhead are recorded within construction in progress.
The Company periodically reviews inventories for unusable and obsolete items based on assumptions about future demand and market conditions. Based on this evaluation, provisions are made to write inventories down to their market value.
Solar Energy Systems, net
The Company records solar energy systems leased to customers and solar energy systems that are under installation as solar energy systems, net on its consolidated balance sheet. Solar energy systems, net is comprised of system equipment costs and initial direct costs related to solar energy systems, less accumulated depreciation and amortization. Depreciation on solar energy systems is calculated on a straight-line basis over the estimated useful lives of the systems of 35 years. Prior to the fourth quarter of 2016, the Company calculated depreciation on solar energy systems on a straight-line basis to their estimated residual values over the estimated useful lives of systems, which was expected to be 20 years. The Company revised the estimated useful life of solar energy systems in the fourth quarter of 2016, as the Company reviewed its assumptions and concluded that customers are more likely to renew their lease rather than purchase the solar energy system at the end of the lease term. The impact of the change in estimate was immaterial for 2016 and future periods. The Company periodically reviews its estimated useful life and recognizes changes in estimates by prospectively adjusting depreciation expense. Inverters and batteries are depreciated over their estimated useful life of 10 years.
Solar energy systems under construction will be depreciated as solar energy systems leased to customers when the respective systems are completed and interconnected.
Initial direct costs from the origination of Customer Agreements are capitalized and amortized over the initial term of the related Customer Agreement and are included within solar energy systems, net in the consolidated balance sheets. Amortization of these costs is recorded in cost of operating leases and incentives in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations.
On January 1, 2018, we will no longer classify and account for our Customer Agreements as operating leases. Instead, we will account for our Customer Agreements pursuant to ASU No. 2014-09 Revenue from Contracts with Customers ("Topic 606"). Upon adoption of Topic 606, we will no longer record IDCs. Instead, we will record costs to obtain a contract in other assets on the consolidated balance sheets, and amortize the balance over the term of the Customer Agreements which will be recorded in future periods to sales and marketing expense on the consolidated statements of operations. The difference in the cumulative amount as of January 1, 2018 is not expected to be material.
Property and Equipment, net
Property and equipment, net consists of leasehold improvements, furniture, computer hardware and software, machinery and equipment and automobiles. All property and equipment are stated at historical cost net of accumulated depreciation. Repairs and maintenance are expensed as incurred.
Property and equipment is depreciated on a straight-line basis over the following periods:
Leasehold improvements
 
Lesser of 6 years or lease term
Furniture
 
5 years
Computer hardware and software
 
3 years
Machinery and equipment
 
5 years or lease term
Automobiles
 
Lease term

Capitalization of Software Costs
For costs incurred in the development of internal use software, the Company capitalizes costs incurred during the application development stage. Costs related to preliminary project activities and post implementation activities are expensed as incurred. Internal use software is amortized on a straight-line basis over its estimated useful life. We capitalized additional costs of $6.1 million, $4.9 million and $8.3 million in 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.
Intangible Assets, net
Finite-lived intangible assets are initially recorded at fair value and presented net of accumulated amortization. Intangible assets are amortized on a straight-line basis over their estimated useful lives as follows:
Customer relationships
 
6-10 years
Developed technology
 
5 years
Trade names
 
5-8 years

Impairment of Long-Lived Assets
The carrying amounts of the Company’s long-lived assets, including solar energy systems and intangible assets subject to depreciation and amortization, are periodically reviewed for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of these assets may not be recoverable or that the useful life is shorter than originally estimated. Factors that are considered in deciding when to perform an impairment review would include significant negative industry or economic trends and significant changes or planned changes in the use of the assets. Recoverability of these assets is measured by comparison of the carrying amount of each asset to the future undiscounted cash flows the asset is expected to generate over its remaining life. If the asset is considered to be impaired, the amount of any impairment is measured as the difference between the carrying value and the fair value of the impaired asset. If the useful life is shorter than originally estimated, the Company amortizes the remaining carrying value over the new shorter useful life. No impairment of long-lived assets has been recorded for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015.
Business Combinations
Acquisitions of entities that meet the definition of a business are accounted for as business combinations in accordance with ASC 805, Business Combinations. The Company records assets acquired and liabilities assumed based on their estimated fair values at the acquisition date. The excess of the purchase price over those fair values is recorded as goodwill. Acquisition-related expenses are expensed as incurred.
Goodwill
Goodwill represents the excess of the purchase price over the fair value of assets acquired and liabilities assumed. Goodwill is reviewed for impairment at least annually or whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount may be impaired. The Company has determined that it operates as one reporting unit and the Company’s goodwill is recorded at the enterprise level. The Company performs its annual impairment test of goodwill on October 1 of each fiscal year or whenever events or circumstances change or occur that would indicate that goodwill might be impaired. When assessing goodwill for impairment, the Company uses qualitative and if necessary, quantitative methods in accordance with FASB ASC Topic 350, Goodwill. The Company also considers its enterprise value and if necessary, discounted cash flow model, which involves assumptions and estimates, including the Company’s future financial performance, weighted average cost of capital and interpretation of currently enacted tax laws.
Circumstances that could indicate impairment and require the Company to perform a quantitative impairment test include a significant decline in the Company’s financial results, a significant decline in the Company’s enterprise value relative to its net book value, an unanticipated change in competition or the Company’s market share and a significant change in the Company’s strategic plans.
Deferred Revenue
Deferred revenue consists of amounts for which the criteria for revenue recognition have not yet been met and includes a) amounts that are collected from customers, including upfront deposits and lease prepayments; b) rebates and incentives received and receivables from utility companies and various local and state government agencies; c) amounts related to investment tax credits (“ITC”) that the Company monetized in connection with its lease-pass through financing obligations; and d) amounts received related to the sales of solar renewable energy credits (“SRECs”).
Deferred revenue consists of the following (in thousands):
 
 
December 31,
 
 
2017
 
2016
Customer payments
 
$
436,859

 
$
400,233

Rebates and incentives
 
108,823

 
110,576

ITCs
 
85,602

 
121,004

SRECs
 
30,453

 
22,437

Total
 
$
661,737

 
$
654,250


Deferred Grants
Deferred grants consist of U.S. Treasury grants and state tax credits. The Company applied for a renewable energy technologies income tax credit offered by one of the states in the form of a cash payment and deferred the tax credit as a grant on the consolidated balance sheets. The Company records the grants as deferred grants and recognizes the benefit on a straight-line basis over the estimated depreciable life of the associated assets as a reduction in cost of operating leases and incentives. As described in the Solar Energy Systems, net section above, the estimated depreciable life of the associated assets was revised from 20 to 35 years in 2016.
Warranty Accrual
The Company accrues warranty costs when revenue is recognized for solar energy systems sales, based on the estimated future costs of meeting its warranty obligations. Warranty costs primarily consist of replacement costs for supplies and labor costs for service personnel since warranties for equipment and materials are covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty (other than a small deductible in certain cases). As such, the warranty reserve is immaterial in all periods presented. The Company makes and revises these estimates based on the number of solar energy systems under warranty, the Company’s historical experience with warranty claims, assumptions on warranty claims to occur over a systems’ warranty period and the Company’s estimated replacement costs.
Solar Energy Performance Guarantees
The Company guarantees to customers certain specified minimum solar energy production output for solar facilities over the initial term of the Customer Agreements. The Company monitors the solar energy systems to determine whether these specified minimum outputs are being achieved. If the Company determines that the guaranteed minimum energy output is not achieved, it records a liability for the estimated amounts payable. The liability, which is included as accrued expenses and other liabilities in the consolidated balance sheets is immaterial in all periods presented.
Derivative Financial Instruments
The Company recognizes all derivative instruments on the balance sheet at their fair value. Changes in the fair value of derivatives are recorded each period in current earnings or other comprehensive loss if a derivative is designated as part of a hedge transaction. The ineffective portion of the hedge, if any, is immediately recognized in earnings and are included in other expenses (income), net in the consolidated statements of operations.
Beginning in 2015, the Company uses derivative financial instruments, primarily interest rate swaps, to manage its exposure to interest rate risks on its syndicated term loans, which are recognized on the balance sheet at their fair values. On the date that the Company enters into a derivative contract, the Company formally documents all relationships between the hedging instruments and the hedged items, as well as its risk management objective and strategy for undertaking each hedge transaction. Derivative instruments designated in a hedge relationship to mitigate exposure to variability in expected future cash flows, or other types of forecasted transactions, are considered cash flow hedges. Cash flow hedges are accounted for by recording the fair value of the derivative instrument on the balance sheet as either a freestanding asset or liability. Changes in the fair value of a derivative that is designated and qualifies as an effective cash flow hedge are recorded in accumulated other comprehensive loss, net of tax, until earnings are affected by the variability of cash flows of the hedged item. Any derivative gains and losses that are not effective in hedging the variability of expected cash flows of the hedged item or that do not qualify for hedge accounting treatment are recognized directly into income. At the hedge’s inception and at least quarterly thereafter, a formal assessment is performed to determine whether changes in cash flows of the derivative instrument have been highly effective in offsetting changes in the cash flows of the hedged items and whether they are expected to be highly effective in the future. The Company discontinues hedge accounting prospectively when (i) it determines that the derivative is no longer effective in offsetting changes in the cash flows of a hedged item; (ii) the derivative expires or is sold, terminated, or exercised; or (iii) management determines that designating the derivative as a hedging instrument is no longer appropriate. In all situations in which hedge accounting is discontinued and the derivative remains outstanding, the derivative instrument is carried at its fair market value on the balance sheet with the changes in fair value recognized in current period earnings. The remaining balance in accumulated other comprehensive loss associated with the derivative that has been discontinued is not recognized in the income statement unless it is probable that the forecasted transaction will not occur. Such amounts are recognized in earnings when earnings are affected by the hedged transaction.
The Company recognized warrants with former preferred stockholders as an inducement to convert their shares of convertible preferred stock into shares of common stock immediately prior to the Company’s initial public offering as derivative liabilities. Such liabilities were valued when the financial instruments were initially issued, with the change in their respective fair values recorded as a gain or loss on revaluation within other expenses (income), net in the Company’s statement of operations. The Company determines the fair value of its warrant derivative liabilities using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model.
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, and recourse and non-recourse debt.
Revenue Recognition
The Company recognizes revenue when (i) persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, (ii) delivery has occurred or services have been rendered, (iii) the sales price is fixed and determinable, and (iv) collection of the related receivable is reasonably assured.
Operating leases and incentives
Operating leases and incentives revenue is primarily comprised of revenue from Customer Agreements, revenue from solar energy system rebate incentives, revenue associated with ITCs assigned to investment funds that are classified as lease pass-through arrangements 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. The Company recognizes revenue on a straight-line basis over the initial term of the Customer Agreements (typically 20 years) that have minimum lease payments, or as earned when the customers are billed based on the actual electricity generated at a specific rate under the terms of the Customer Agreements.
The Company considers upfront rebate incentives received from states and utilities for solar energy systems subject to Customer Agreements to be minimum lease payments. Rebate revenue is recognized on a straight-line basis over the life of the initial contract term of the Customer Agreement beginning when a PTO letter is issued by the local utility company or on the date daily operation commences if utility approval is not required.
The Company monetizes the ITCs associated with the leased systems on its lease pass-through financing obligations by assigning them to the investor together with the future customer lease payments. A portion of the cash consideration received from the investors is allocated to the estimated fair value of the assigned ITCs upon the PTO dates of the leased systems, as discussed below. The estimated fair value of the ITCs is determined by applying the expected internal rate of return to the investor on this structure to the gross amount of the ITCs that may be claimed by the investor.
The ITCs are subject to recapture under the Code if the underlying solar energy system either ceases to be a qualifying property or undergoes a change in ownership within five years of its placed in service date. The recapture amount decreases by 20% on each anniversary of the PTO date. As the Company has an obligation to ensure the solar energy systems is in service and operational for a term of five years to avoid any recapture of the ITCs, the Company recognizes revenue as the recapture provisions lapse assuming the other aforementioned revenue recognition criteria have been met. The portion of monetized ITCs are reclassified to deferred revenue from lease pass-through financing obligation on the consolidated balance sheets when the leased systems are granted PTO. Subsequently, one-fifth of the monetized ITCs are recognized as revenue in the consolidated statements of operations on each anniversary of the solar energy systems’ PTO date over the following five years.
SREC revenue arises from the sale of environmental credits generated by solar energy systems. SREC revenue is recorded in operating leases and incentives revenue. We recognize revenue related to the sale of SRECs to the extent the cumulative value of delivered SRECs per contract exceeds any possible liquidated damages for non-delivery, if any.
The Company has determined that Customer Agreements are operating leases as opposed to capital leases pursuant to ASC 840, Leases. The initial lease term of Customer Agreements is 20 years. Since the estimated economic life of solar energy systems is estimated to be at least 35 years, the lease term is less than 75% of its estimated economic life. Additionally, the Company evaluated the following lease classification criteria: (i) whether there is a transfer of ownership or bargain purchase option at the end of the lease and (ii) whether the present value of minimum lease payments exceeds 90% of the fair value at lease inception and determined that these criteria were not met.
Pursuant to our early adoption of ASC 842, Leases ("ASC 842"), our Customer Agreements will no longer meet the criteria for lease accounting. Instead, we will account for our Customer Agreements pursuant to Topic 606. See discussion under “Recently Issued and Adopted Accounting Standards” below.
Solar energy systems and product sales
For solar energy systems sold to customers, the Company recognizes revenue when the solar energy system passes inspection by the authority having jurisdiction, provided all other revenue recognition criteria have been met. The Company’s installation projects are typically completed in a short period of time.
Product sales consist of solar panels, racking systems, inverters, other solar energy products sold to resellers and customer leads. Product sales revenue is recognized at the time when title is transferred, generally upon shipment. Shipping and handling fees charged to customers are included in net sales. Total shipping and handling fees charged to customers was $3.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2017 and $2.6 million for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015. Volume discounts given to customers are recorded as a reduction of revenue, since the Company does not receive goods or services in exchange for the discounts offered. 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 product revenue.
Cost of Revenue
Operating leases and incentives
Cost of revenue for operating leases and incentives is primarily comprised of the (1) depreciation of the cost of the solar energy systems, as reduced by amortization of deferred grants, (2) amortization of initial direct costs, (3) lease operations, monitoring and maintenance costs including associated personnel costs, and (4) 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.
Research and Development Expense
Research and development expenses include personnel costs, allocated overhead costs, and other costs related to the development of our proprietary technology.
Advertising Costs
Advertising costs are expensed as incurred in the consolidated statements of operations. The Company incurred advertising costs of $18.6 million, $30.2 million and $34.8 million for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.
Stock-Based Compensation
The Company grants stock options and restricted stock units (“RSUs”) for its equity incentive plan and employee stock purchase plan. Stock-based compensation to employees is measured based on the grant date fair value of the awards and recognized over the period during which the employee is required to perform services in exchange for the award (generally the vesting period of the award). The Company estimates the fair value of stock options and employee stock purchase plans awards granted using the Black-Scholes option-valuation model. Compensation cost is recognized over the vesting period of the applicable award using the straight-line method for those options expected to vest.
The Company also grants RSUs to non-employees that vest upon the satisfaction of both performance and service conditions. For RSUs granted to non-employees that vest upon the satisfaction of a performance condition, the Company starts recognizing expense on the RSUs when the performance condition is met.
Noncontrolling Interests and Redeemable Noncontrolling Interests
Noncontrolling interests represent investors’ interests in the net assets of the Funds that the Company has created to finance the cost of its solar energy systems subject to the Company’s Customer Agreements. The Company has determined that the contractual provisions in the funding arrangements represent substantive profit sharing arrangements. The Company has further determined that the appropriate methodology for attributing income and loss to the noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests each period is a balance sheet approach referred to as the hypothetical liquidation at book value (“HLBV”) method.
Under the HLBV method, the amounts of income and loss attributed to the noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests in the consolidated statements of operations reflect changes in the amounts the investors would hypothetically receive at each balance sheet date under the liquidation provisions of the contractual agreements of these arrangements, assuming the net assets of these funding structures were liquidated at recorded amounts. The Company’s initial calculation of the investor’s noncontrolling interest in the results of operations of these funding arrangements is determined as the difference in the noncontrolling interests’ claim under the HLBV method at the start and end of each reporting period, after taking into account any capital transactions, such as contributions or distributions, between the Fund and the investors.
The Company classifies certain noncontrolling interests with redemption features that are not solely within the control of the Company outside of permanent equity on its consolidated balance sheets. Redeemable noncontrolling interests are reported using the greater of their carrying value as determined by the HLBV method or their estimated redemption value at each reporting date.
Income Taxes
The Company recognizes deferred tax assets and liabilities for the expected future tax consequences of events that have been included in the consolidated financial statements and tax returns. Under this method, deferred tax assets and liabilities are determined based on the difference between the financial statement and tax basis of assets and liabilities using enacted tax rates in effect for the year in which the differences are expected to reverse. Valuation allowances are provided against deferred tax assets to the extent that it is more likely than not that the deferred tax asset will not be realized. The Company is subject to the provisions of ASC 740, Income Taxes, which establishes consistent thresholds as it relates to accounting for income taxes. It defines the threshold for recognizing the benefits of tax return positions in the financial statements as “more likely than not” to be sustained by the taxing authority and requires measurement of a tax position meeting the more-likely-than-not criterion, based on the largest benefit that is more than 50% likely to be realized. Management has analyzed the Company’s inventory of tax positions with respect to all applicable income tax issues for all open tax years (in each respective jurisdiction).
The Company sells solar energy systems to the Funds. As the Funds are consolidated by the Company, the gain on the sale of the solar energy systems is not recognized in the consolidated financial statements. However, this gain is recognized for tax reporting purposes. Since these transactions are intercompany sales, prior to January 1, 2017, any tax expense incurred related to these intercompany sales is deferred and recorded as a prepaid tax asset and amortized over the depreciable life of the underlying solar energy systems which has been estimated to be 35 years in accordance with ASC Topic 810. With the adoption of ASU 2016-16 on January 1, 2017, we eliminated the prepaid tax asset and recorded the deferred tax effects of previous transactions. Beginning on January 1, 2017, we began recording the current tax effects of the gain on intercompany sales as well as the related deferred tax effects.
The Company files tax returns as prescribed by the tax laws of the jurisdictions in which it operates. In the normal course of business, the Company is subject to examination by federal, state and local jurisdictions, where applicable. The statute of limitations for the tax returns varies by jurisdiction.
Concentrations of Risk
Financial instruments which potentially subject the Company to concentrations of credit risk consist primarily of cash and accounts receivable, which includes rebates receivable. The associated risk of concentration for cash is mitigated by banking with institutions with high credit ratings. At certain times, amounts on deposit exceed Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insurance limits. The Company does not require collateral or other security to support accounts receivable. To reduce credit risk, management performs periodic credit evaluations and ongoing evaluations of its customers’ financial condition. Rebates receivable are due from various states and local governments as well as various utility companies. The Company considers the collectability risk of such amounts to be low. The Company is not dependent on any single customer. The Company’s customers under Customer Agreements are primarily located in California, Arizona, New Jersey, Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts. The loss of a customer would not adversely impact the Company’s operating results or financial position. The Company depends on a limited number of suppliers of solar panels and other system components. During the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, the solar materials purchases from the top five suppliers were approximately $188.8 million and $184.9 million, respectively.
Recently Issued and Adopted Accounting Standards
In May 2014, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update ("ASU") No. 2014-09 Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606). The standard establishes a single revenue recognition model for all contracts with customers, eliminates industry specific requirements, and expands disclosure requirements. This ASU is effective for the Company for annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2017 including the interim reporting periods within that fiscal year. Adoption of this ASU is either retrospective to each prior period presented or retrospective with a cumulative adjustment to retained earnings or accumulated deficit as of the adoption date. The Company plans to adopt this ASU using the modified retrospective method with a cumulative adjustment to retained earnings as of January 1, 2018 unless it is unable to adopt ASC 842 based on the proposed amendments to the new leases guidance as discussed below.
In February 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-02 to replace existing lease guidance with ASC 842. ASC 842 changes how the definition of a lease is applied and judgment may be required in applying the definition of a lease to certain arrangements. The new standard will result in certain contracts no longer being leases. For lessees, the standard requires all leases with an initial term greater than one year be recorded on the balance sheet as an asset and a lease liability. This ASU is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018 and interim periods within those fiscal years. Early adoption is permitted. The FASB proposed amendments to the new leases guidance to allow entities to elect a simplified transition approach which allows adoption without adjusting the comparative periods presented. The Company's decision to early adopt is pending finalization of the proposed amendments.
Upon the adoption of ASC 842, our Customer Agreements will be accounted for under Topic 606 due to changes in the definition of a lease under ASC 842.
Under Topic 606, total consideration for Customer Agreements, including price escalators and performance guarantees, will be estimated and recognized over the term of the Customer Agreement. Customer Agreements and SRECs with a prepaid element will be deemed to include a significant financing component, as defined under Topic 606, which will increase both revenue and interest expense. For lease pass-through funds which report ITC revenue, the ITC revenue will be recognized in full at PTO. SREC revenues will be estimated net of any variable consideration related to possible liquidated damages, and recognized upon delivery of SRECs to the counterparty. Therefore, for some revenue recognized in recent periods, or not yet recognized, the recognition timing will move to periods preceding the reported periods and be reflected in retained earnings upon adoption of Topic 606. The accounting is not expected to materially differ for revenue currently recognized as "Solar energy systems and product sales."
The Company is continuing to assess the specific dollar impact of such changes to periods prior to 2018.
In March 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-09, Compensation – Stock Compensation. The new guidance requires all income tax effects of awards to be recognized in the income statement when the awards vest or are settled. It also requires the Company to make an accounting policy election to either estimate the number of awards that are expected to vest or account for forfeitures as they occur. The Company adopted the new ASU effective January 1, 2017. The Company elected to continue to estimate the number of awards that are expected to vest. Upon the adoption, deferred tax liabilities decreased by $3.3 million, and retained earnings increased by $3.3 million as of January 1, 2017.
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 which 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. This ASU is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019 and interim periods within those fiscal years. Early adoption is permitted. Adoption of this ASU is applied using a modified retrospective approach, with certain aspects requiring a prospective approach. The Company is currently evaluating this guidance and the impact it may have on the Company’s consolidated financial statements.
In October 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-16, Intra-Entity Transfers of Assets Other Than Inventory, which requires entities to recognize income tax consequences of an intra-entity transfer of an asset other than inventory when the transfer occurs. As a result, a reporting entity will recognize the tax expense from the sale of assets in the seller’s tax jurisdiction when the transfer occurs, even though the pre-tax effects of the transaction are eliminated in the consolidated financial statements. Any deferred tax asset that arises in the buyer’s jurisdiction will also be recognized at the time of the transfer. The Company adopted the standard effective January 1, 2017. As the Company sells solar energy systems to Funds, the Company will record the current tax effects of the gain on such sales as well as a deferred tax asset related to the Company’s increased tax basis in the partnership as a result of such sales. As a result of the adoption, the Company reversed net prepaid tax assets of $378.5 million, recognized gross deferred tax assets of $378.2 million and recorded a cumulative adjustment decreasing retained earnings by $0.3 million as of January 1, 2017.
In November 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-18, Statement of Cash Flows (Topic 230), Restricted Cash, which requires a statement of cash flows to present the change during the period in the total of cash, cash equivalents and amounts generally described as restricted cash and restricted cash equivalents. This ASU is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2017 and interim periods within those fiscal years. Early adoption is permitted. Adoption of this ASU is applied using a retrospective approach. As a result, the Company will no longer present transfers between cash and restricted cash in the consolidated cash flow statements upon adoption in the first quarter of 2018.
In January 2017, the FASB issued ASU 2017-01, Business Combinations (Topic 805), Clarifying the Definition of a Business, to clarify the definition of a business with the objective of adding guidance to assist entities with evaluating whether transactions should be accounted for as acquisitions of assets or businesses. The amendments in this update provide a screen to determine when a set of operations is not a business. The screen requires that when substantially all of the fair value of the gross assets acquired (or disposed of) is concentrated in a single identifiable asset or a group of similar identifiable assets, the set is not a business. This screen reduces the number of transactions that need to be further evaluated. The Company early adopted the new ASU effective January 1, 2017 on a prospective basis.
In January 2017, the FASB issued ASU 2017-04, Intangibles – Goodwill and Other (Topic 350), Simplifying the Test for Goodwill Impairment, which eliminates Step 2 from the goodwill impairment test. Instead, under this amendment, an entity shall perform its annual, or interim, goodwill impairment test by comparing the fair value of the reporting unit with its carrying amount. An entity should recognize an impairment charge for the amount by which the carrying amount exceeds the reporting unit’s fair value. The ASU is effective for annual or any interim goodwill impairment tests beginning in fiscal years after December 15, 2019. Early adoption is permitted for interim or annual goodwill impairment tests performed on testing dates after January 1, 2017. The Company has adopted the new ASU, and the adoption of this standard would only have an effect on the Company’s consolidated financial statements if it failed Step 1 of the goodwill impairment test, which did not occur in 2017.
In May 2017, the FASB issued ASU 2017-09, Compensation – Stock Compensation, Scope of Modification Accounting, which requires entities to apply modification accounting guidance when there are changes in the terms or conditions of a share-based payment award unless all of the following conditions are met: (i) the fair value of the modified award is the same as the fair value of the original award immediately before modification, (ii) the vesting conditions of the modified award are the same as the original award immediately before modification, and (iii) the classification of the modified award is the same as the original award immediately before modification. The Company early adopted the new ASU effective April 1, 2017, on a prospective basis.
In August 2017, the FASB issued 2017-12, Derivatives and Hedging, Targeted Improvements to Accounting for Hedging Activities, which expands an entity's ability to hedge nonfinancial and financial risk components, eliminates the requirement to separately measure and report hedge ineffectiveness, and aligned the recognition and presentation of the effects of hedging instruments in the financial statements. The ASU is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018 and interim periods within those fiscal years. Early adoption is permitted. Adoption of this ASU is applied using a modified retrospective approach. The Company is currently evaluating this guidance and the impact it may have on the Company's consolidated financial statements.