COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
We have entered into contracts that contain guarantees to unaffiliated parties that could require performance or payment under certain conditions. As of March 31, 2018, there are no material outstanding claims related to our guarantee obligations, and we do not anticipate we will be required to make any material payments under these guarantees.
Letters of Credit
At March 31, 2018, we had outstanding letters of credit under the Vistra Operations Credit Facilities totaling $758 million as follows:
$634 million to support commodity risk management collateral requirements in the normal course of business, including over-the-counter and exchange-traded transactions and collateral postings with ERCOT;
$36 million to support executory contracts and insurance agreements;
$55 million to support our REP financial requirements with the PUCT, and
$33 million for other credit support requirements.
Litigation Related to EPA Reviews — In August 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), acting as the attorneys for the EPA, filed a civil enforcement lawsuit against Luminant in federal district court in Dallas, alleging violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA), including its New Source Review standards, at our Big Brown and Martin Lake generation facilities. In August 2015, the district court granted Luminant's motion to dismiss seven of the nine claims asserted by the EPA in the lawsuit.
In January 2017, the EPA dismissed its two remaining claims with prejudice and the district court entered final judgment in Luminant's favor. In March 2017, the EPA and the Sierra Club appealed the final judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Fifth Circuit Court). After the parties filed their respective briefs in the Fifth Circuit Court, the appeal was argued before the Fifth Circuit Court in March 2018. We believe that we have complied with all requirements of the CAA and intend to vigorously defend against the remaining allegations. The lawsuit requests (i) the maximum civil penalties available under the CAA to the government of up to $32,500 to $37,500 per day for each alleged violation, depending on the date of the alleged violation, and (ii) injunctive relief, including an order requiring the installation of best available control technology at the affected units. An adverse outcome could require substantial capital expenditures that cannot be determined at this time or retirement of the remaining plant at issue, Martin Lake, and could possibly require the payment of substantial penalties. The recent retirement of the Big Brown plant should have a favorable impact on this litigation. We cannot predict the outcome of these proceedings, including the financial effects, if any.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
In August 2015, the EPA finalized rules to address greenhouse gas emissions from new, modified and reconstructed and existing electricity generation units, referred to as the Clean Power Plan, including rules for existing facilities that would establish state-specific emissions rate goals to reduce nationwide CO2 emissions. Various parties (including Luminant) filed petitions for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit Court) and subsequently, in January 2016, a coalition of states, industry (including Luminant) and other parties filed applications with the U.S. Supreme Court (Supreme Court) asking that the Supreme Court stay the rule while the D.C. Circuit Court reviews the legality of the rule for existing plants. In February 2016, the Supreme Court stayed the rule pending the conclusion of legal challenges on the rule before the D.C. Circuit Court and until the Supreme Court disposes of any subsequent petition for review. Oral argument on the merits of the legal challenges to the rule was heard in September 2016 before the entire D.C. Circuit Court.
Following a March 2017 Executive Order entitled Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth issued by President Trump covering a number of matters, including the Clean Power Plan (Order), in April 2017, in accordance with the Order, the EPA published its intent to review the Clean Power Plan. In October 2017, the EPA issued a proposed rule that would repeal the Clean Power Plan, with the proposed repeal focusing on what the EPA believes to be the unlawful nature of the Clean Power Plan and asking for public comment on the EPA's interpretations of its authority under the Clean Air Act. In December 2017, the EPA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) soliciting information from the public as the EPA considers proposing a future rule. Vistra Energy submitted comments on the ANPR in February 2018. Vistra Energy submitted comments to the proposed repeal in April 2018. While we cannot predict the outcome of these rulemakings and related legal proceedings, or estimate a range of reasonably probable costs, if the rules are ultimately implemented or upheld as they were issued, they could have a material impact on our results of operations, liquidity or financial condition.
Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR)
In July 2011, the EPA issued the CSAPR, compliance with which would have required significant additional reductions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions from our fossil fueled generation units. After certain EPA revisions to the rule, the CSAPR became effective January 1, 2015. With respect to Texas's SO2 and annual NOX emission budgets, in November 2016, the EPA proposed to withdraw the CSAPR Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) addressing SO2 and annual NOX for Texas and in September 2017, the EPA finalized its proposal to remove Texas from these annual CSAPR programs. The Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association filed a petition for review in the D.C. Circuit Court challenging that final rule and Luminant intervened on behalf of the EPA. On April 10, 2018, the D.C. Circuit Court granted the EPA's and petitioners' motion to hold the case in abeyance pending the EPA's consideration of a pending petition for administrative reconsideration. As a result of the EPA's action, Texas electric generating units are no longer subject to the CSAPR annual SO2 and NOX limits, but remain subject to the CSAPR's ozone season NOX requirements. While we cannot predict the outcome of future proceedings related to the CSAPR, based upon our current operating plans, including the recent retirements of our Monticello, Big Brown and Sandow 4 plants (see Note 3), we do not believe that the CSAPR in its current form will cause any material operational, financial or compliance issues to our business or require us to incur any material compliance costs.
Regional Haze — Reasonable Progress and Long-Term Strategies
The Regional Haze Program of the CAA establishes "as a national goal the prevention of any future, and the remedying of any existing, impairment of visibility in mandatory class I federal areas which impairment results from man-made pollution." In February 2009, the TCEQ submitted a State Implementation Plan (SIP) concerning regional haze (Regional Haze SIP) to the EPA. In December 2011, the EPA proposed a limited disapproval of the Regional Haze SIP due to its reliance on the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) instead of the EPA's replacement CSAPR program. The EPA finalized the limited disapproval of Texas's Regional Haze SIP in June 2012 and, on March 20, 2018, the D.C. Circuit Court issued a decision upholding the EPA's actions and denying all of Luminant's petitions for review.
In January 2016, the EPA issued a final rule approving in part and disapproving in part Texas' SIP addressing the reasonable progress component of the Regional Haze program and issuing a FIP. The EPA's emission limits in the FIP assume additional control equipment for specific lignite/coal-fueled generation units across Texas, including new flue gas desulfurization systems (scrubbers) at seven electricity generating units and upgrades to existing scrubbers at seven generation units. Specifically, for Luminant, the EPA's FIP is based on new scrubbers at Big Brown Units 1 and 2 and Monticello Units 1 and 2 and scrubber upgrades at Martin Lake Units 1, 2 and 3, Monticello Unit 3 and Sandow Unit 4. Under the terms of the rule, subject to the legal proceedings described in the following paragraph, the scrubber upgrades would be required by February 2019, and the new scrubbers would be required by February 2021.
In March 2016, Luminant and a number of other parties, including the State of Texas, filed petitions for review in the Fifth Circuit Court challenging the FIP's Texas requirements. Luminant and other parties also filed motions to stay the FIP while the court reviews the legality of the EPA's action. In July 2016, the Fifth Circuit Court denied the EPA's motion to dismiss Luminant's challenge to the FIP and granted the motions to stay filed by Luminant and the other parties pending final review of the petitions for review. The case was abated until the end of November 2016 in order to allow the parties to pursue settlement discussions. Settlement discussions were unsuccessful, and in December 2016 the EPA filed a motion seeking a voluntary remand of the rule back to the EPA for further consideration of Luminant's pending request for administrative reconsideration. In March 2017, the Fifth Circuit Court remanded the rule back to the EPA for reconsideration in light of the Court's prior determination that we and the other petitioners demonstrated a substantial likelihood that the EPA exceeded its statutory authority and acted arbitrarily and capriciously, but the Court denied all of the other pending motions. The stay of the rule (and the emission control requirements) remains in effect, and the EPA is required to file status reports of its reconsideration every 60 days. The recent retirements of our Monticello, Big Brown and Sandow 4 plants should have a favorable impact on this rulemaking and litigation. While we cannot predict the outcome of the rulemaking and legal proceedings, or estimate a range of reasonably possible costs, the result may have a material impact on our results of operations, liquidity or financial condition.
Regional Haze — Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART)
In September 2017, the EPA signed the final BART FIP for Texas, with the rule serving as a partial approval of Texas's 2009 SIP and a partial FIP. For SO2, the rule creates an intrastate Texas emission allowance trading program as a "BART alternative" that operates in a similar fashion to a CSAPR trading program. The program includes 39 generating units (including our Martin Lake, Big Brown, Monticello, Sandow 4, Stryker 2 and Graham 2 plants). The compliance obligations in the program will start on January 1, 2019 and the identified units will receive an annual allowance allocation that is equal to their most recent annual CSAPR SO2 allocation. Luminant's units covered by the program are allocated 91,222 allowances annually. Under the rule, a unit that is listed that does not operate for two consecutive years starting after 2018 would no longer receive allowances after the fifth year of non-operation. We believe the recent retirements of our Monticello, Big Brown and Sandow 4 plants will enhance our ability to comply with this BART rule for SO2. For NOX, the rule adopts the CSAPR's ozone program as BART and for particulate matter, the rule approves Texas's SIP that determines that no electric generating units are subject to BART for particulate matter. The National Parks Conservation Association, the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund filed a petition challenging the rule in the Fifth Circuit Court as well as a petition for reconsideration filed with the EPA. In March 2018, the Fifth Circuit Court granted a joint motion filed by the EPA and the environmental groups involved to abate the Fifth Circuit Court proceedings until the EPA has taken action on the reconsideration petition and concludes the reconsideration process. While we cannot predict the outcome of the rulemaking and legal proceedings, we believe the rule, if ultimately implemented or upheld as issued, will not have a material impact on our results of operation, liquidity or financial condition.
Affirmative Defenses During Malfunctions
In February 2013, the EPA proposed a rule requiring certain states to replace SIP exemptions for excess emissions during malfunctions with an affirmative defense. Texas was not included in that original proposal since it already had an EPA-approved affirmative defense provision in its SIP that was found to be lawful by the Fifth Circuit Court in 2013. In May 2015, the EPA finalized its 2013 proposal to extend the EPA's proposed findings of inadequacy to states that have affirmative defense provisions, including Texas. The EPA's revised proposal would require Texas to remove or replace its EPA-approved affirmative defense provisions for excess emissions during startup, shutdown and maintenance events. In June 2015, the State of Texas and various industry parties (including Luminant) filed petitions for review in the Fifth Circuit Court challenging certain aspects of the EPA's final rule as they apply to the Texas SIP. In August 2015, the Fifth Circuit Court transferred the petitions that Luminant and other parties filed to the D.C. Circuit Court, and in October 2015 the petitions were consolidated with the pending petitions challenging the EPA's action in the D.C. Circuit Court. Before the originally scheduled oral argument was held, in April 2017, the court granted the EPA's motion to continue oral argument and ordered that the case be held in abeyance with the EPA to provide status reports to the court on the EPA's review of the action at 90-day intervals. We cannot predict the timing or outcome of this proceeding, or estimate a range of reasonably possible costs, but implementation of the rule as finalized may have a material impact on our results of operations, liquidity or financial condition.
SO2 Designations for Texas
In November 2016, the EPA finalized its nonattainment designations for counties surrounding our Big Brown, Monticello and Martin Lake generation plants. The final designations require Texas to develop nonattainment plans for these areas. In February 2017, the State of Texas and Luminant filed challenges to the nonattainment designations in the Fifth Circuit Court. Subsequently, in October 2017, the Fifth Circuit Court granted the EPA's motion to hold the case in abeyance in light of the EPA's representation that it intended to revisit the nonattainment rule. In December 2017, the TCEQ submitted a petition for reconsideration to the EPA. In addition, with respect to Monticello and Big Brown, the retirement of those plants should favorably impact our legal challenge to the nonattainment designations in that the nonattainment designation for Freestone County and Titus County are based solely on the Sierra Club modeling, which we dispute, of alleged SO2 emissions from Monticello and Big Brown. Regardless, considering these retirements, the nonattainment designation for those counties are no longer supported. While we cannot predict the outcome of this matter, or estimate a range of reasonably possible costs, the result may have a material impact on our results of operations, liquidity or financial condition.
Litigation Related to the Merger
In January 2018, a purported Dynegy stockholder filed a putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern Division of Texas, Houston Division, alleging that Dynegy, each member of the Dynegy board of directors and Vistra Energy violated federal securities laws by filing a Form S-4 Registration Statement in connection with the Merger that omitted purportedly material information. The lawsuit sought to enjoin the Merger and to have Dynegy and Vistra Energy issue an amended Form S-4 or, alternatively, damages if the Merger closed without an amended Form S-4 having been filed. Two other related lawsuits were also filed but neither of those named Vistra Energy. In February 2018, Vistra Energy and Dynegy filed supplemental disclosures to the Registration Statement and the plaintiffs agreed to forego any further effort to enjoin the Merger, dismiss the individual claims with prejudice, and dismissed without prejudice claims of the putative class following the stockholder vote on March 2, 2018.
We are involved in various legal and administrative proceedings in the normal course of business, the ultimate resolutions of which, in the opinion of management, are not anticipated to have a material effect on our results of operations, liquidity or financial condition.