tax liabilities in the Company's consolidated balance sheets. The Company measures its deferred income tax assets and deferred income tax liabilities using enacted tax rates that are expected to be in effect when the deferred tax liabilities are expected to be realized or settled. Many factors are considered when assessing the likelihood of future realization of deferred tax assets, including recent earnings within taxing jurisdictions, expectations of future taxable income, the carry forward periods available and other relevant factors. The Company believes it is more likely than not that the future reversal of existing taxable temporary differences will allow the Company to realize deferred tax assets, net of valuation allowances. A valuation allowance is recorded to reduce the net deferred tax assets to an amount that is more-likely-than-not to be realized. Tax benefits are recognized when it is more-likely-than-not that a tax position will be sustained upon examination by the authorities. The benefit recognized from a position that has surpassed the more-likely-than-not threshold is the largest amount of benefit that is more than 50% likely to be realized upon settlement. The Company recognizes interest and penalties related to uncertain tax benefits as a component of income tax expense. Changes to existing net deferred tax assets or valuation allowances or changes to uncertain tax benefits are recorded to income tax expense in the period such determination is made.
Adoption of ASU 2018-02
In February 2018, the FASB issued ASU No. 2018-02, Reclassification of Certain Tax Effects from Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income to help entities address certain stranded income tax effects in AOCI resulting from the U.S. government’s enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) on December 22, 2017. The amendment provides entities with an option to reclassify stranded tax effects within AOCI to retained earnings in each period in which the effect of the change in the U.S. federal corporate income tax rate in the Tax Act (or portion thereof) is recorded. The amendment also includes disclosure requirements regarding the issuer’s accounting policy for releasing income tax effects from AOCI. The optional guidance is effective for annual periods, and interim periods within those annual periods, beginning after December 15, 2018. Early adoption is permitted, and entities should apply the provisions of the amendment either in the period of adoption or retrospectively to each period (or periods) in which the effect of the change in the U.S. federal corporate income tax rate in the Tax Act is recognized.
During the fourth quarter of 2018, the Company early adopted ASU No. 2018-02 and elected the provisions of the amendment in the period of adoption. The adoption of ASU No. 2018-12 resulted in reclassifying $9.4 million of stranded tax effects on the net unrealized gains on derivatives designated as hedging instruments in a cash flow relationship from AOCI to accumulated deficit. The reclassification is reflected as an increase to accumulated deficit within the cumulative-effect adjustment in the consolidated statements of stockholders’ equity for the year ended December 31, 2018, and an increase to the opening balance of AOCI as of January 1, 2018 (See Note 21. Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income).
The Company releases the taxes deferred in AOCI as the individual units of account (i.e., derivative instruments in a cash flow hedge or net investment hedge relationships) are terminated, extinguished, sold or substantially liquidated.
Variable Interest Entities
The Company assesses entities for consolidation in accordance with ASC 810. The Company consolidates variable interest entities (“VIEs”) in renewable energy facilities when determined to be the primary beneficiary. VIEs are entities that lack one or more of the characteristics of a voting interest entity (“VOE”). The Company has a controlling financial interest in a VIE when its variable interest or interests provide it with (i) the power to direct the activities of the VIE that most significantly impact the VIE’s economic performance and (ii) the obligation to absorb losses of the VIE or the right to receive benefits from the VIE that could potentially be significant to the VIE.
VOEs are entities in which (i) the total equity investment at risk is sufficient to enable the entity to finance its activities independently and (ii) the equity holders have the power to direct the activities of the entity that most significantly impact its economic performance, the obligation to absorb the losses of the entity and the right to receive the residual returns of the entity. The usual condition for a controlling financial interest in a voting interest entity is ownership of a majority voting interest. If the Company has a majority voting interest in a voting interest entity, the entity is consolidated.
For the Company's consolidated VIEs, the Company has presented on its consolidated balance sheets, to the extent material, the assets of its consolidated VIEs that can only be used to settle specific obligations of the consolidated VIE, and the liabilities of its consolidated VIEs for which creditors do not have recourse to the Company's general assets outside of the VIE.