Basis of Preparation of Financials
The condensed consolidated financial statements included herein have been prepared by Connecticut Water Service, Inc. (“CTWS” or the “Company”) and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and reflect all adjustments that are of a normal recurring nature which are, in the opinion of management, necessary to a fair statement of the results for interim periods. Certain information and footnote disclosures have been omitted pursuant to such rules and regulations, although the Company believes that the disclosures are adequate to make the information presented not misleading. The Company’s primary operating subsidiaries are: The Connecticut Water Company (“Connecticut Water”), The Heritage Village Water Company (“HVWC”) and The Avon Water Company (“Avon Water”) in the State of Connecticut and The Maine Water Company (“Maine Water”) in the State of Maine (together, the “Regulated Companies”). The Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheet at December 31, 2018 has been derived from the audited financial statements at that date but does not include all of the information and footnotes required by accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America for complete financial statements. It is suggested that these condensed consolidated financial statements be read in conjunction with the financial statements and the notes thereto included in the Company’s latest Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018 (the “10-K”).
The results for interim periods are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected for the year since the consolidated earnings are subject to seasonal factors.
Proposed Merger with SJW Group
On August 5, 2018, the Company entered into a Second Amended and Restated Agreement and Plan of Merger (the “Revised Merger Agreement”) with SJW Group, a Delaware corporation (“SJW”), and Hydro Sub, Inc., a Connecticut corporation and a direct wholly owned subsidiary of SJW (“Merger Sub”), pursuant to which Merger Sub will merge with and into the Company, with the Company surviving the merger as a wholly owned subsidiary of SJW (the “Merger”). Subject to the terms and conditions of the Revised Merger Agreement, at the effective time of the Merger, each outstanding share of our common stock (other than certain cancelled shares) will be automatically converted into the right to receive an amount in cash equal to $70.00 per share, payable without interest. The Revised Merger Agreement amends and restates in its entirety the Amended and Restated Agreement and Plan of Merger (the “First Amended and Restated Merger Agreement”), dated as of May 30, 2018, by and among the Company, SJW and Merger Sub, which amended and restated in its entirety the Agreement and Plan of Merger (the “Original Merger Agreement”), dated as of March 14, 2018, by and among the Company, SJW and Merger Sub.
The Board of Directors approved, adopted and declared advisable the Revised Merger Agreement and the Merger and recommended that the Company’s shareholders approve the Revised Merger Agreement following a comprehensive review of the transaction. The Revised Merger Agreement was approved by the Company’s shareholders on November 16, 2018. The Merger is subject to certain customary closing conditions, including, among other things, approval of the Revised Merger Agreement by the Company’s shareholders (which was received on November 16, 2018) and regulatory approvals (including the approval of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (“PURA”) and the Maine Public Utilities Commission (“MPUC”)). The required waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder (the “HSR Act”), was terminated early on April 27, 2018, and the early termination expired on April 27, 2019. The Company and SJW re-filed the necessary notifications under the HSR Act on April 4, 2019, and the required waiting period was terminated early on April 15, 2019. On October 15, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) consented to the joint application for transfer of control filed by the Company and SJW on October 4, 2018 and amended on October 12, 2018. On April 19, 2019, the FCC granted the Company and SJW’s request to extend the transfer of control deadline to October 20, 2019. No further clearance from the FCC is required.
On May 4, 2018, Maine Water filed with MPUC an application for approval of the Merger. On May 7, 2018, the Company and SJW filed with PURA a joint application for approval of the Merger. Following the start on May 31, 2018 of a 45-day go-shop process permitted by the First Amended and Restated Merger Agreement, the Company and SJW withdrew their joint PURA application on June 19, 2018, and filed a new joint application on July 18, 2018 following the end of the go-shop process. On January 9, 2019, the Company and SJW withdrew their current application before PURA and announced that they were continuing to evaluate their regulatory approach, including the possibility of submitting a new application to PURA in connection with the Merger. On January 23, 2019, Maine Water voluntarily requested to withdraw its application before MPUC, aligning the Maine regulatory process with the regulatory process in Connecticut. After a thorough review conducted by the management and boards of the Company and SJW, and with the support of their respective Connecticut regulatory counsel, the Company disclosed on February 21, 2019 that the companies decided to file new applications with PURA and MPUC which are intended to address PURA’s concerns. The Company and SJW filed a new joint application with PURA on April 3, 2019, and Maine Water filed a new application with MPUC on May 3, 2019. PURA must make a ruling on the merger within 120 days after the filing of an application, unless the Company and SJW agree to an extension of the 120-day timeframe. MPUC must make a ruling on the merger within 60 days after the filing of an application, unless it determines that the necessary investigation cannot be concluded within 60 days, in which event it can extend the review period for up to an additional 120 days.
On July 20, 2018, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) formally issued an Order Instituting Investigation (the “Order”) providing that CPUC will investigate whether the Merger is subject to CPUC approval and the Merger’s anticipated impacts within California. CPUC held a public participation hearing on January 31, 2019 in connection with the Order. By a letter dated February 21, 2019, SJW informed CPUC that it would file a new application with PURA in connection with the Merger. On March 4, 2019, CPUC suspended the Order pending a final decision by PURA. On April 19, 2019, the City of San José submitted a request to CPUC that it resume its investigation of the Merger.
The rates we charge our water and waste water customers in Connecticut and Maine are established under the jurisdiction of and are approved by PURA and the MPUC, respectively. It is our policy to seek rate relief as necessary to enable us to achieve an adequate rate of return. The Regulated Companies’ allowed returns on equity and allowed returns on rate base are as follows:
As of March 31, 2019
Allowed Return on Equity
Allowed Return on Rate Base
HVWC (blended water and wastewater rates)
The PURA establishes rates in Connecticut on a company-wide basis while the MPUC approves Maine Water’s rates on a division-by-division basis. Each of Connecticut Water, HVWC, Avon Water and Maine Water are allowed, subject to regulatory approval, to add surcharges to customers’ bills in order to recover certain costs associated with approved capital projects in between full rate cases, as well as approved surcharges for Water Revenue Adjustments, in Connecticut, as discussed in more detail below. HVWC has not added surcharges to customers’ bills in order to recover certain approved capital projects as of March 31, 2019, however, HVWC, as ordered by PURA, began to utilize Water Revenue Adjustments for water and wastewater as of March 31, 2017.
On January 3, 2018, PURA reopened the most recent rate case decisions for the Company’s Connecticut Regulated Companies to determine what, if any, adjustments to rates are appropriate to account for revisions to tax laws, including corporate tax rates, contained in the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“Tax Act”). On January 23, 2019, PURA issued a decision that determined the appropriate accounting and rate treatments for the reduction in the Federal Corporate Income Tax rate from 35 to 21 percent. The reduction in the Federal Corporate Income Tax impacts two specific areas of corporate income tax that the regulated water utilities must account for: a) the income tax expense included in rates charged to customers; and b), the Excess Accumulated Deferred Income Tax (“EADIT”) liability accrued on the regulated utilities books.
PURA has directed regulated water companies, including Avon and HVWC, to create a regulatory liability as of January 1, 2018 to account for the reduced Federal Corporate Income Tax expense and defer treatment until the companies file their next general rate cases, at which point the companies will propose a method to return the regulatory liability to customers. During the year ended December 31, 2018, Avon Water and HVWC recorded regulatory liabilities in the amounts of $154,000 and $89,000, respectively. Avon Water and HVWC will continue to record additional liabilities each month until their next rate cases. For the quarter ended March 31, 2019, Avon Water and HVWC recorded an additional $37,000 and $21,000, respectively, to the regulatory liabilities. Additionally, PURA directed Avon Water and HVWC, to establish a liability account for the EADIT from January 1, 2018, going forward, which will also be returned to customers commencing with the their next rate cases. As discussed below, Connecticut Water has entered into a settlement agreement with the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel (“OCC”), which was approved by PURA, which covers treatment of the Tax Act.
On January 11, 2018, the MPUC issued a notice of investigation to determine the impact of the Tax Act on Maine Water. The investigation allowed the MPUC to determine what, if any, adjustments to rates would be appropriate to account for revisions to tax laws, including corporate tax rates contained in the Tax Act. On March 15, 2019, the MPUC issued an Order concluding the investigation, directing Maine Water to create regulatory liabilities in five of their ten operating divisions, collectively totaling $157,587 for the year ended December 31, 2018. Maine Water will continue to record additional liabilities each month until the company’s next rate case in each division. For the quarter ended March 31, 2019, Maine Water recorded an additional $39,000 to the regulatory liabilities. Further, the Order directs Maine Water to file general rate cases in the same five divisions on or before March 1, 2022. During the year ended December 31, 2018, Maine Water recorded a regulatory liability in the amount of $167,000 in anticipation of the Order.
Maine Water Land Sale
On March 11, 2016, Maine Water entered into a purchase and sale agreement with the Coastal Mountains Land Trust, a Maine nonprofit corporation (the “Land Trust”) pursuant to which Maine Water agreed to sell two conservation easements to the Land Trust on approximately 1,400 acres of land located in the towns of Rockport, Camden and Hope, in Knox County, Maine valued in the aggregate at $3.1 million. The land has a book value of approximately $270,000 and is included in “Other Property and Investments” on the Company’s Consolidated Balance Sheets as of March 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018. The easements and purchase prices are as follows:
1. Ragged Mountain Mirror Lake Conservation Easement: $1,875,000; and
2. Grassy Pond Conservation Easement: $600,000.
The first transaction regarding Mirror Lake was completed on September 27, 2018. As a result of the transaction, Maine Water has recognized $435,000 in net income in the period and has recorded a regulatory liability of $435,000 that will be refunded to customers over a one-year period, beginning January, 2019. In addition to the net income recorded as a result of the transaction, the Company recorded a $100,000 deferred income tax benefit due to the timing difference related to the cash refund to customers. The total net income benefit recorded by the Company for this transaction was $535,000 presented as $625,000 in gain on real estate transactions offset by $90,000 of donation deduction in the Other line item. Maine Water also made a $250,000 contribution to the Land Trust at the closing.
The second transaction regarding Grassy pond is scheduled to close on or before December 31, 2019. The second transaction is structured such that Maine Water will sell a conservation easement valued at $1,200,000 for $600,000. Accordingly, Maine Water expects to claim a $600,000 charitable deduction on the bargain sale. Similarly to the first transaction, net proceeds from the second transaction will be shared equally between the customers of the Camden Rockland division and Maine Water.
Connecticut Water’s Water Infrastructure Conservation Adjustment (“WICA”) was 2.15% and 9.81% at March 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Connecticut Water’s WICA was reset to zero during 2018 as a result of a rate ruling on the Company’s limited reopener and settlement agreement issued by PURA, as discussed below. As of March 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively, Avon Water’s WICA surcharge was 9.31% and 8.09%. As of March 31, 2019, HVWC has not filed for a WICA surcharge.
On February 6, 2018, Connecticut Water filed a petition with PURA to reopen Connecticut Water’s 2010 rate case proceeding (previously reopened in 2013) for the limited purpose of approving a Settlement Agreement entered into by Connecticut Water and the OCC (the “Agreement”). The Agreement proposes a change in Connecticut Water’s customer rates effective for bills rendered on and after April 1, 2018 made up of the following two components: (1) the revenue requirements associated with a $36.3 million addition to rate base to reflect necessary upgrades to Connecticut Water’s Rockville Water Treatment Plant; and (2) the folding in to base rates of the Company’s present WICA surcharges. In addition, the Agreement provides that:
1.Upon implementation of new rates under the Agreement, until such time as new rates are adopted in a general rate case, through a temporary modification of the earnings sharing mechanism, Connecticut Water customers will receive one hundred percent of any earnings in excess of levels allowed by law rather than limiting such customer credits to 50% as contemplated by applicable law;
2.Connecticut Water agrees it will not file for a general increase of Connecticut Water’s base rates unless those rates are to be effective on or after January 1, 2020;
3.The pending proceeding initiated by PURA in Docket No. 09-12-11RE03, Application of The Connecticut Water Company for Amended Rates – Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act shall be closed; and
4.Connecticut Water shall continue to make investments in infrastructure replacement consistent with its approved WICA plan. Connecticut Water shall be allowed to continue to pursue recovery of eligible projects through WICA.
On August 15, 2018, PURA issued a final decision that accepted the conditions of a revised settlement agreement. The primary facets of the revised settlement agreement were the revenue requirements associated with the Rockville Water Treatment Plant, discussed above, and the folding of previously approved WICA surcharges into base rates, which reset Connecticut Water’s WICA to zero and resolution of the Company’s obligations related to the Tax Act. New rates were effective as of April 1, 2018.
Since 2013, Connecticut law has authorized a Water Revenue Adjustment (“WRA”) to reconcile actual water revenues with the revenues projected in the last general rate case and allows companies to adjust rates as necessary to recover the revenues approved by PURA in the last general rate case. The WRA removes the financial disincentive for water utilities to develop and implement effective water conservation programs. The WRA allows water companies to defer on the balance sheet, as a regulatory asset or liability, for later collection from or crediting to customers the amount by which actual revenues deviate from the revenues allowed in the most recent general rate proceedings, including WICA proceedings. Additionally, projects eligible for WICA surcharges were expanded to include energy conservation projects, improvements required to comply with streamflow regulations, and improvements to certain acquired systems.
Connecticut Water’s and HVWC’s allowed revenues for the three months ended March 31, 2019, as approved by PURA during each company’s most recent general rate case and including subsequently approved WICA surcharges, are approximately $20.1 million. Through normal billing for the three months ended March 31, 2019, revenue for Connecticut Water and HVWC would have been approximately $19.2 million had the WRA not been implemented. As a result of the implementation of the WRA, Connecticut Water and HVWC recorded $0.9 million in additional revenue for the three months ended March 31, 2019. Avon Water does not currently have PURA approval to apply the WRA surcharge to its customers’ bills and, therefore, does not currently use the WRA mechanism.
In Maine, the overall, cumulative Water Infrastructure Charge (“WISC”) for all divisions was 5.7% and 4.1% as a percentage of total revenues as of March 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
A water revenue adjustment mechanism law in Maine became available to regulated water utilities in Maine on October 15, 2015. Maine Water is currently precluded from seeking new rates in the Biddeford and Saco division due to provisions in the settlement agreement with the MPUC. Maine’s rate-adjustment mechanism could provide revenue stabilization in divisions with declining water consumption and Maine Water expects to request usage of this mechanism in future rate filings when consumption trends support its use.