we have exposure), on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. Moreover, seeking to enforce the obligations of our counterparties under our interconnection agreements could be time consuming or costly and could involve little certainty of success.
In addition, we cannot predict whether transmission facilities will be expanded in specific markets to accommodate or increase competitive access to those markets. Expansion of the transmission system by transmission providers is costly, time consuming and complex. To the extent the transmission system is not adequate in an area, our operating facilities’ generation of electricity may be physically or economically curtailed without compensation due to transmission capacity limitations, reducing our revenues and impairing our ability to capitalize fully on a particular facility’s generating potential. Such curtailments could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Furthermore, economic congestion on the transmission grid (for instance, a positive price difference between the location where power is put on the grid by a clean power generation asset and the location where power is taken off the grid by the facility’s customer) in certain of the bulk power markets in which we operate may occur and we may be deemed responsible for those congestion costs. If we were liable for such congestion costs, our financial results could be adversely affected.
We face competition from traditional utilities and renewable energy companies.
The solar and wind energy industries, and the broader clean energy industry, are highly competitive and continually evolving, as market participants strive to distinguish themselves within their markets and compete with large incumbent utilities and new market entrants. We believe that our primary competitors are the traditional incumbent utilities that supply energy to our potential customers under highly regulated rate and tariff structures. We compete with these traditional utilities primarily based on price, predictability of price and the ease with which customers can switch to electricity generated by our renewable energy facilities. If we cannot offer compelling value to our customers based on these factors, then our business will not grow. Traditional utilities generally have substantially greater financial, technical, operational and other resources than we do, and as a result may be able to devote more resources to the research, development, promotion and sale of their products or respond more quickly to evolving industry standards and changes in market conditions than we can. Traditional utilities could also offer other value-added products or services that could help them to compete with us even if the cost of electricity they offer is higher than ours. In addition, the source of a majority of traditional utilities’ electricity is non-renewable, which may allow them to sell electricity more cheaply than electricity generated by our solar generation facilities and wind power plants.
We also face risks that traditional utilities could change their volumetric-based (i.e., cents per kWh) rate and tariff structures to make distributed solar generation less economically attractive to their retail customers. Currently, net metering programs are utilized in the majority of states to support the growth of distributed generation solar facilities by requiring traditional utilities to reimburse certain of their retail customers for the excess power they generate at the level of the utilities’ retail rates rather than the rates at which those utilities buy power at wholesale. Certain states, such as Arizona, allow its traditional utilities to assess a surcharge on customers with solar generation facilities for their use of the utility’s grid, based on the size of the customer’s solar generation facility. This surcharge reduces the economic returns for the excess electricity that the solar generation facilities produce. These types of charges, which reduce or eliminate the economic benefits of net metering could be implemented in other states, which could significantly change the economic benefits of solar energy as perceived by traditional utilities’ retail customers.
We also face competition from other renewable energy companies who may offer different products, lower prices and other incentives, which may impact our ability to maintain our customer base. As the solar and wind industries grow and evolve, we will also face new competitors who are not currently in the market, such as an emerging storage market. Our failure to adapt to changing market conditions and to compete successfully with existing or new competitors could limit our growth and could have a material adverse effect on our business and prospects.
There are a limited number of purchasers of utility-scale quantities of electricity, which exposes us and our utility-scale facilities to additional risk.
Since the transmission and distribution of electricity is either monopolized or highly concentrated in most jurisdictions, there are a limited number of possible purchasers for utility-scale quantities of electricity in a given geographic location, including transmission grid operators, state and investor-owned power companies, public utility districts and cooperatives. As a result, there is a concentrated pool of potential buyers for electricity generated by our renewable energy facilities, which may restrict our ability to negotiate favorable terms under new PPAs and could impact our ability to find new customers for the electricity generated by our renewable energy facilities should this become necessary. Furthermore, if the financial condition of these utilities and/or power purchasers deteriorated or the RPS programs, climate change programs or other regulations to which they are currently subject and that compel them to source renewable energy supplies change, demand for electricity produced by our utility-scale facilities could be negatively impacted.