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Section 1: 10-K (10-K)

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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, DC  20549
Form 10-K
x
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017
o
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from ___________________ to __________________
Commission File Number 001-31303

BLACK HILLS CORPORATION
Incorporated in South Dakota
7001 Mount Rushmore Road
IRS Identification Number
 
Rapid City, South Dakota  57702
46-0458824
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code
(605) 721-1700
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
 
Name of each exchange
on which registered
Common stock of $1.00 par value
 
New York Stock Exchange

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Yes           x           No           o

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.
Yes           o           No           x

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Yes           x           No           o

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit and post such files).
Yes           x           No           o

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of Registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.    x

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
 
Large accelerated filer    x
 
Accelerated filer     o
 
 
 
 
 
 
Non-accelerated filer     o
(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Smaller reporting company    o
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Emerging growth company    o

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the Registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. o

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
Yes           o           No           x

State the aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non-affiliates of the Registrant.

At June 30, 2017                                  $3,563,087,139

Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the Registrant’s classes of common stock, as of the latest practicable date.
Class
Outstanding at January 31, 2018
Common stock, $1.00 par value
53,544,761

shares

Documents Incorporated by Reference
Portions of the Registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement being prepared for the solicitation of proxies in connection with the 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held on April 24, 2018, are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K.





TABLE OF CONTENTS

 
 
 
Page
 
 
GLOSSARY OF TERMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
 
 
 
 
 
 
WEBSITE ACCESS TO REPORTS
 
 
 
 
 
 
FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION
Part I
 
 
 
 
ITEMS 1. and 2.
BUSINESS AND PROPERTIES
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 1A.
RISK FACTORS
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 1B.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 3.
LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 4.
MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
Part II
 
 
 
 
ITEM 5.
MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 6.
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
 
 
 
 
 
ITEMS 7. and 7A.
MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS AND QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 8.
FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 9.
CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 9A.
CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 9B.
OTHER INFORMATION
Part III
 
 
 
 
ITEM 10.
DIRECTORS, EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 11.
EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 12.
SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT AND RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 13.
CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED TRANSACTIONS, AND DIRECTOR INDEPENDENCE
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 14.
PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTING FEES AND SERVICES
 
 
 
 
Part IV
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 15.
EXHIBITS, FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES
 
 
 
 
 
ITEM 16.
FORM 10-K SUMMARY
 
 
 
 
 
 
SIGNATURES

2



GLOSSARY OF TERMS AND ABBREVIATIONS

The following terms and abbreviations appear in the text of this report and have the definitions described below:
AC
Alternating Current
AFUDC
Allowance for Funds Used During Construction
AltaGas
AltaGas Renewable Energy Colorado LLC, a subsidiary of AltaGas Ltd.
AOCI
Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income
APSC
Arkansas Public Service Commission
Aquila Transaction
Our July 14, 2008 acquisition of five utilities from Aquila, Inc.
ARO
Asset Retirement Obligations
ASC
Accounting Standards Codification
ASU
Accounting Standards Update as issued by the FASB
ATM
At-the-market equity offering program
Basin Electric
Basin Electric Power Cooperative
Bbl
Barrel
Bcf
Billion cubic feet
BHC
Black Hills Corporation; the Company
BHEP
Black Hills Exploration and Production, Inc., a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Non-regulated Holdings, includes Black Hills Gas Resources, Inc. and Black Hills Plateau Production LLC, direct wholly-owned subsidiaries of Black Hills Exploration and Production, Inc.
Black Hills Colorado IPP
Black Hills Colorado IPP, LLC a 50.1% owned subsidiary of Black Hills Electric Generation
Black Hills Gas
Black Hills Gas, LLC, a subsidiary of Black Hills Gas Holdings, which was previously named SourceGas LLC.
Black Hills Gas Holdings
Black Hills Gas Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of Black Hills Utility Holdings, which was previously named SourceGas Holdings LLC
Black Hills Electric Generation
Black Hills Electric Generation, LLC, a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Non-regulated Holdings
Black Hills Energy
The name used to conduct the business of our utility companies
Black Hills Energy Arkansas Gas
Includes the acquired SourceGas utility Black Hills Energy Arkansas, Inc. utility operations
Black Hills Energy Colorado Electric
Includes Colorado Electric’s utility operations
Black Hills Energy Colorado Gas
Includes Black Hills Energy Colorado Gas utility operations, as well as the acquired SourceGas utility Black Hills Gas Distribution’s Colorado gas operations and RMNG
Black Hills Energy Iowa Gas
Includes Black Hills Energy Iowa gas utility operations
Black Hills Energy Kansas Gas
Includes Black Hills Energy Kansas gas utility operations
Black Hills Energy Nebraska Gas
Includes Black Hills Energy Nebraska gas utility operations, as well as the acquired SourceGas utility Black Hills Gas Distribution’s Nebraska gas operations
Black Hills Energy Services
A Choice Gas supplier acquired in the SourceGas Acquisition
Black Hills Energy South Dakota Electric
Includes Black Hills Power’s operations in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana
Black Hills Energy Wyoming Electric
Includes Cheyenne Light’s electric utility operations
Black Hills Energy Wyoming Gas
Includes Cheyenne Light’s natural gas utility operations, as well as the acquired SourceGas utility Black Hills Gas Distribution’s Wyoming gas operations
Black Hills Gas Distribution
Black Hills Gas Distribution, LLC, a company acquired in the SourceGas Acquisition that conducts the gas distribution operations in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming. It was formerly named SourceGas Distribution LLC.
Black Hills Non-regulated Holdings
Black Hills Non-regulated Holdings, LLC, a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Corporation
Black Hills Power
Black Hills Power, Inc., a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Corporation (doing business as Black Hills Energy)
BHSC
Black Hills Service Company LLC, a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Corporation

3



Black Hills Utility Holdings
Black Hills Utility Holdings, Inc., a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Corporation (doing business as Black Hills Energy)
Black Hills Wyoming
Black Hills Wyoming, LLC, a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Electric Generation
BLM
United States Bureau of Land Management
Busch Ranch
Busch Ranch Wind Farm is a 29 MW wind farm near Pueblo, Colorado, jointly owned by Colorado Electric and AltaGas. Colorado Electric has a 50% ownership interest in the wind farm.
Ceiling Test
Related to our Oil and Gas subsidiary, capitalized costs, less accumulated amortization and related deferred income taxes, are subject to a ceiling test which limits the pooled costs to the aggregate of the discounted value of future net revenue attributable to proved natural gas and crude oil reserves using a discount rate defined by the SEC plus the lower of cost or market value of unevaluated properties.
CAPP
Customer Appliance Protection Plan - acquired in the SourceGas Acquisition
CFTC
United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission
CG&A
Cawley, Gillespie & Associates, Inc., an independent consulting and engineering firm
Cheyenne Light
Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power Company, a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Corporation (doing business as Black Hills Energy)
Cheyenne Prairie
Cheyenne Prairie Generating Station is a 132 MW natural-gas fired generating facility jointly owned by Black Hills Power and Cheyenne Light in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Cheyenne Prairie was placed into commercial service on October 1, 2014.
Choice Gas Program
The unbundling of the natural gas service from the distribution component, which opens up the gas supply for competition allowing customers to choose from different natural gas suppliers. Black Hills Gas Distribution distributes the gas and Black Hills Energy Services is one of the Choice Gas suppliers.
City of Gillette
Gillette, Wyoming
Colorado Electric
Black Hills Colorado Electric Utility Company, LP, an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Utility Holdings (doing business as Black Hills Energy)
Colorado Gas
Black Hills Colorado Gas Utility Company, LP, an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Utility Holdings (doing business as Black Hills Energy)
Colorado Interstate Gas (CIG)
Colorado Interstate Natural Gas Pricing Index
Colorado IPP
Black Hills Colorado IPP, LLC a 50.1% owned subsidiary of Black Hills Electric Generation
Consolidated Indebtedness to Capitalization Ratio
Any Indebtedness outstanding at such time, divided by Capital at such time. Capital being Consolidated Net-Worth (excluding noncontrolling interest and including the aggregate outstanding amount of RSNs) plus Consolidated Indebtedness (including letters of credit, certain guarantees issued and excluding RSNs) as defined within the current Credit Agreement.
Cooling Degree Day
A cooling degree day is equivalent to each degree that the average of the high and low temperature for a day is above 65 degrees. The warmer the climate, the greater the number of cooling degree days.  Cooling degree days are used in the utility industry to measure the relative warmth of weather and to compare relative temperatures between one geographic area and another.  Normal degree days are based on the National Weather Service data for selected locations over a 30-year average.
CPP
Clean Power Plan
CP Program
Commercial Paper Program
CPUC
Colorado Public Utilities Commission
CT
Combustion turbine
CTII
The 40 MW Gillette CT, a simple-cycle, gas-fired combustion turbine owned by the City of Gillette.
CVA
Credit Valuation Adjustment
DART
Days Away Restricted Transferred (number of cases with days away from work or job transfer or restrictions multiplied by 200,000 then divided by total hours worked for all employees during the year covered)
DC
Direct current
Dodd-Frank
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
DSM
Demand Side Management
DRSPP
Dividend Reinvestment and Stock Purchase Plan

4



Dth
Dekatherm. A unit of energy equal to 10 therms or one million British thermal units (MMBtu)
EBITDA
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a non-GAAP measurement
ECA
Energy Cost Adjustment -- adjustments that allow us to pass the prudently-incurred cost of fuel and purchased energy through to customers.
Economy Energy
Electricity purchased by one utility from another utility to take the place of electricity that would have cost more to produce on the utility’s own system
EIA
Environmental Improvement Adjustment
Energy West
Energy West Wyoming, Inc., a subsidiary of Gas Natural, Inc. Energy West is an acquisition we closed on July 1, 2015.
Enserco
Enserco Energy Inc., a former wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Non-regulated Holdings, which is presented in discontinued operations in this Annual Report filed on Form 10-K
EPA
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Equity Unit
Each Equity Unit has a stated amount of $50, consisting of a purchase contract issued by BHC to purchase shares of BHC common stock and a 1/20, or 5% undivided beneficial ownership interest in $1,000 principal amount of BHC RSNs due 2028.
EWG
Exempt Wholesale Generator
FASB
Financial Accounting Standards Board
FDIC
Federal Depository Insurance Corporation
FERC
United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Fitch
Fitch Ratings
GAAP
Accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America
GADS
Generation Availability Data System
GCA
Gas Cost Adjustment -- adjustments that allow us to pass the prudently-incurred cost of gas and certain services through to customers.
GHG
Greenhouse gases
Global Settlement
Settlement with a utilities commission where the dollar figure is agreed upon, but the specific adjustments used by each party to arrive at the figure are not specified in public rate orders
Happy Jack
Happy Jack Wind Farm, LLC, owned by Duke Energy Generation Services
Heating Degree Day
A heating degree day is equivalent to each degree that the average of the high and the low temperatures for a day is below 65 degrees. The colder the climate, the greater the number of heating degree days. Heating degree days are used in the utility industry to measure the relative coldness of weather and to compare relative temperatures between one geographic area and another. Normal degree days are based on the National Weather Service data for selected locations over a 30 year average.
IEEE
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Iowa Gas
Black Hills Iowa Gas Utility Company, LLC, a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Utility Holdings (doing business as Black Hills Energy)
IPP
Independent power producer
IPP Transaction
The July 11, 2008 sale of seven of our IPP plants
IRS
United States Internal Revenue Service
Kansas Gas
Black Hills Kansas Gas Utility Company, LLC, a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Utility Holdings (doing business as Black Hills Energy)
kV
Kilovolt
LIBOR
London Interbank Offered Rate
LOE
Lease Operating Expense
Loveland Area Project
Part of the Western Area Power Association transmission system
MAPP
Mid-Continent Area Power Pool
MATS
Utility Mercury and Air Toxics Rules under the United States EPA National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from Coal and Oil Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units
Mbbl
Thousand barrels of oil
Mcf
Thousand cubic feet
Mcfd
Thousand cubic feet per day

5



Mcfe
Thousand cubic feet equivalent
MDU
Montana Dakota Utilities Co., a regulated utility division of MDU Resources Group, Inc.
MEAN
Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska
MGP
Manufactured Gas Plant
MMBtu
Million British thermal units
MMcf
Million cubic feet
MMcfe
Million cubic feet equivalent
Moody’s
Moody’s Investors Service, Inc.
MSHA
Mine Safety and Health Administration
MTPSC
Montana Public Service Commission
MW
Megawatts
MWh
Megawatt-hours
N/A
Not Applicable
NAV
Net Asset Value
Nebraska Gas
Black Hills Nebraska Gas Utility Company, LLC, a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Utility Holdings (doing business as Black Hills Energy)
NERC
North American Electric Reliability Corporation
NGL
Natural Gas Liquids (1 barrel equals 6 Mcfe)
NOAA
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA Climate Normals
This dataset is produced once every 10 years. This dataset contains daily and monthly normals of temperature, precipitation, snowfall, heating and cooling degree days, frost/freeze dates, and growing degree days calculated from observations at approximately 9,800 stations operated by NOAA’s National Weather Service.

NOx
Nitrogen oxide
NOL
Net operating loss
NPSC
Nebraska Public Service Commission
NWPL
Northwest Interstate Natural Gas Pricing Index
NYMEX
New York Mercantile Exchange
NYSE
New York Stock Exchange
OCI
Other Comprehensive Income
OPEB
Other Post-Employment Benefits
OSHA
Occupational Safety & Health Administration
OSM
U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining
PCA
Power Cost Adjustment
PCCA
Power Capacity Cost Adjustment
Peak View
$109 million 60 MW wind generating project owned by Colorado Electric, placed in service on November 7, 2016 and adjacent to Busch Ranch Wind Farm
PPA
Power Purchase Agreement
PUHCA 2005
Public Utility Holding Company Act of 2005
REPA
Renewable Energy Purchase Agreement
Revolving Credit Facility
Our $750 million credit facility used to fund working capital needs, letters of credit and other corporate purposes, which matures in 2021
RMNG
Rocky Mountain Natural Gas, a regulated gas utility acquired in the SourceGas Acquisition that provides regulated transmission and wholesale natural gas service to Black Hills Gas Distribution in western Colorado (doing business as Black Hills Energy)
RSNs
Remarketable junior subordinated notes, issued on November 23, 2015
SAIDI
System Average Interruption Duration Index
SDPUC
South Dakota Public Utilities Commission
SEC
U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Service Guard
Home appliance repair product offering for both natural gas and electric
Silver Sage
Silver Sage Windpower, LLC, owned by Duke Energy Generation Services
SO2
Sulfur dioxide

6



S&P
Standard & Poor’s, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
SourceGas
SourceGas Holdings LLC and its subsidiaries, a gas utility owned by funds managed by Alinda Capital Partners and GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE) that was acquired on February 12, 2016, and is now named Black Hills Gas Holdings, LLC (doing business as Black Hills Energy)
SourceGas Acquisition
The acquisition of SourceGas Holdings, LLC by Black Hills Utility Holdings
SourceGas Transaction
On February 12, 2016, Black Hills Utility Holdings acquired SourceGas pursuant to a purchase and sale agreement executed on July 12, 2015 for approximately $1.89 billion, which included the assumption of $760 million in debt at closing.
South Dakota Electric
Includes Black Hills Power operations in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana
SSIR
System Safety and Integrity Rider
System Peak Demand
Represents the highest point of customer usage for a single hour for the system in total. Our system peaks include demand loads for 100% of plants regardless of joint ownership.
TCA
Transmission Cost Adjustment -- adjustments passed through to the customer based on transmission costs that are higher or lower than the costs approved in the rate case.
TCJA
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted on December 22, 2017
TCIR
Total Case Incident Rate (average number of work-related injuries incurred by 100 workers during a one-year period)
Tech Services
Non-regulated product lines within Black Hills Corporation that 1) provide electrical system construction services to large industrial customers of our electric utilities, and 2) serve gas transportation customers throughout its service territory by constructing and maintaining customer-owner gas infrastructure facilities, typically through one-time contracts.
TFA
Transmission Facility Adjustment
VEBA
Voluntary Employee Benefit Association
VIE
Variable Interest Entity
WDEQ
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality
WECC
Western Electricity Coordinating Council
Winter Storm Atlas
An October 2013 blizzard that impacted South Dakota Electric. It was the second most severe blizzard in Rapid City’s history.
WPSC
Wyoming Public Service Commission
WRDC
Wyodak Resources Development Corp., a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Hills Non-regulated Holdings
Wyodak Plant
Wyodak, a 362 MW mine-mouth coal-fired plant in Gillette, Wyoming, owned 80% by PacifiCorp and 20% by Black Hills Energy South Dakota. Our WRDC mine supplies all of the fuel for the plant.
Wyoming Electric
Includes Cheyenne Light’s electric utility operations
Wyoming Gas
Includes Cheyenne Light’s natural gas utility operations, as well as the acquired SourceGas utility Black Hills Gas Distribution’s Wyoming gas operations




7



Website Access to Reports

The reports we file with the SEC are available free of charge at our website www.blackhillscorp.com as soon as reasonably practicable after they are filed. In addition, the charters of our Audit, Governance and Compensation Committees are located on our website along with our Code of Business Conduct, Code of Ethics for our Chief Executive Officer and Senior Finance Officers, Corporate Governance Guidelines of the Board of Directors and Policy for Director Independence. The information contained on our website is not part of this document.

Forward-Looking Information

This Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements as defined by the SEC. Forward-looking statements are all statements other than statements of historical fact, including without limitation those statements that are identified by the words “anticipates,” “estimates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “predicts” and similar expressions, and include statements concerning plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events or performance, and underlying assumptions and other statements that are other than statements of historical facts. From time to time, the Company may publish or otherwise make available forward-looking statements of this nature, including statements contained within Item 7 - Management’s Discussion & Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those expressed. The Company’s expectations, beliefs and projections are expressed in good faith and are believed by the Company to have a reasonable basis, including without limitation, management’s examination of historical operating trends, data contained in the Company’s records and other data available from third parties. Nonetheless, the Company’s expectations, beliefs or projections may not be achieved or accomplished.

Any forward-looking statement contained in this document speaks only as of the date on which the statement is made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement or statements to reflect events or circumstances that occur after the date on which the statement is made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all of the factors, nor can it assess the effect of each factor on the Company’s business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement. All forward-looking statements, whether written or oral and whether made by or on behalf of the Company, are expressly qualified by the risk factors and cautionary statements in this Form 10-K, including statements contained within Item 1A - Risk Factors.

PART I

ITEMS 1 AND 2.
BUSINESS AND PROPERTIES

History and Organization

Black Hills Corporation, a South Dakota corporation (together with its subsidiaries, referred to herein as the “Company,” “we,” “us” or “our”), is a customer-focused, growth-oriented, vertically-integrated utility company headquartered in Rapid City, South Dakota. Our predecessor company, Black Hills Power and Light Company, was incorporated and began providing electric utility service in 1941. It was formed through the purchase and combination of several existing electric utilities and related assets, some of which had served customers in the Black Hills region since 1883. In 1956, with the purchase of the Wyodak Coal Mine, we began producing and selling energy through non-regulated businesses.

We operate our business in the United States, reporting our operating results through our regulated Electric Utilities, regulated Gas Utilities, Power Generation and Mining segments. Certain unallocated corporate expenses that support our operating segments are presented as Corporate and Other.

Our Electric Utilities segment generates, transmits and distributes electricity to approximately 210,000 electric customers in South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Montana. Our Electric Utilities own 941 MW of generation and 8,839 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines. For additional information, see the Key Elements of our Business Strategy in Item 7.

Our Gas Utilities segment serves approximately 1,042,000 natural gas utility customers in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Wyoming. Our Gas Utilities own and operate 4,656 miles of intrastate gas transmission pipelines and 40,455 miles of gas distribution mains and service lines, seven natural gas storage sites, over 45,000 horsepower of compression and nearly 600 miles of gathering lines. On February 12, 2016, we acquired SourceGas Holdings, LLC, adding four regulated natural gas utilities serving approximately 431,000 customers in Arkansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming. For additional information

8



on this acquisition, see the Key Elements of our Business Strategy in Item 7 and Note 2 in the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8.

Our Power Generation segment produces electric power from its generating plants and sells the electric capacity and energy primarily to our utilities under long-term contracts. Our Mining segment produces coal at our mine near Gillette, Wyoming, and sells the coal primarily under long-term contracts to mine-mouth electric generation facilities including our own regulated and non-regulated generating plants. For additional information, see the Key Elements of our Business Strategy in Item 7.

Our segments generated the following income from continuing operations available for common stock for the year ended December 31, 2017 and had the following total assets at December 31, 2017 (excluding Corporate and Other):
 
Income (loss) from continuing operations available for common stock for the year ended December 31, 2017
Total Assets as of December 31, 2017
 
(in thousands)
Electric Utilities
$110,082
$2,906,275
Gas Utilities
$65,795
$3,426,466
Power Generation
$46,479
$60,852
Mining
$14,386
$65,455

On November 1, 2017, the BHC board of directors approved a complete divestiture of our Oil and Gas segment. As of February 23, 2018, we have either closed transactions or signed contracts to sell more than 90 percent of our oil and gas properties. We have executed agreements to sell all our operated properties and have only non-operated assets with minimal value left to divest. We plan to conclude the sale of all of our remaining assets by mid-year 2018. The results of our Oil and Gas segment are reflected in discontinued operations, other than certain general and administrative and interest costs. BHEP’s assets and liabilities are classified as held for sale. See Note 21 in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Segment Financial Information

We discuss our business strategy and other prospective information in Item 7 - Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations. Financial information regarding our business segments is incorporated herein by reference to Item 8 - Financial Statements and Supplementary Data, and particularly Note 5 in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Electric Utilities Segment

We conduct electric utility operations through our South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado subsidiaries. Our Electric Utilities generate, transmit and distribute electricity to approximately 210,000 customers in South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Montana. Our electric generating facilities and power purchase agreements provide for the supply of electricity principally to our own distribution systems. Additionally, we sell excess power to other utilities and marketing companies, including our affiliates. We also provide non-regulated services through our Tech Services product lines.

Capacity and Demand. System peak demands for the Electric Utilities for each of the last three years are listed below:
 
System Peak Demand (in MW)
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
Summer
Winter
 
Summer
Winter
 
Summer
 
Winter
South Dakota Electric
447
402
 
438
389
 
424
 
369
Wyoming Electric (a)
249
230
 
236
230
 
212
 
202
Colorado Electric (b)
398
299
 
412
302
 
392
 
303
Total Electric Utilities’ Peak Demands
1,094
931
 
1,086
921
 
1,028
 
874
________________________
(a)
The July 2017 summer peak load of 249 surpassed previous summer peak record load of 236 set in July 2016. The winter peak record of 230 was set in December 2016.
(b)
The July 2016 summer peak load of 412 surpassed previous summer peak record load of 406 set in June 2016.

9


Regulated Power Plants. As of December 31, 2017, our Electric Utilities’ ownership interests in electric generation plants were as follows:

Unit
Fuel
Type
Location
Ownership
Interest %
Owned Capacity (MW)
Year
Installed
South Dakota Electric:
 
 
 
 
 
Cheyenne Prairie (a)
Gas
Cheyenne, Wyoming
58%
55.0
2014
Wygen III (b)
Coal
Gillette, Wyoming
52%
57.2
2010
Neil Simpson II
Coal
Gillette, Wyoming
100%
90.0
1995
Wyodak (c)
Coal
Gillette, Wyoming
20%
72.4
1978
Neil Simpson CT
Gas
Gillette, Wyoming
100%
40.0
2000
Lange CT
Gas
Rapid City, South Dakota
100%
40.0
2002
Ben French Diesel #1-5
Oil
Rapid City, South Dakota
100%
10.0
1965
Ben French CTs #1-4
Gas/Oil
Rapid City, South Dakota
100%
80.0
1977-1979
Wyoming Electric:
 
 
 
 
 
Cheyenne Prairie (a)
Gas
Cheyenne, Wyoming
42%
40.0
2014
Cheyenne Prairie CT (a)
Gas
Cheyenne, Wyoming
100%
37.0
2014
Wygen II
Coal
Gillette, Wyoming
100%
95.0
2008
Colorado Electric:
 
 
 
 
 
Busch Ranch Wind Farm (d)
Wind
Pueblo, Colorado
50%
14.5
2012
Peak View Wind Farm (e)
Wind
Pueblo, Colorado
100%
60.0
2016
Pueblo Airport Generation
Gas
Pueblo, Colorado
100%
180.0
2011
Pueblo Airport Generation CT (f)
Gas
Pueblo, Colorado
100%
40.0
2016
AIP Diesel
Oil
Pueblo, Colorado
100%
10.0
2001
Diesel #1-5
Oil
Pueblo, Colorado
100%
10.0
1964
Diesel #1-5
Oil
Rocky Ford, Colorado
100%
10.0
1964
Total MW Capacity
 
 
 
941.1
 
________________________
(a)
Cheyenne Prairie, a 132 MW natural gas-fired power generation facility, was placed into commercial operation on October 1, 2014, to support the utility customers of South Dakota Electric and Wyoming Electric. The facility includes one simple-cycle, 37 MW combustion turbine that is wholly-owned by Wyoming Electric and one combined-cycle, 95 MW unit that is jointly-owned by Wyoming Electric (40 MW) and South Dakota Electric (55 MW).
(b)
Wygen III, a 110 MW mine-mouth coal-fired power plant, is operated by South Dakota Electric. South Dakota Electric has a 52% ownership interest, MDU owns 25% and the City of Gillette owns the remaining 23% interest. Our WRDC coal mine supplies all of the fuel for the plant.
(c)
Wyodak, a 362 MW mine-mouth coal-fired power plant, is owned 80% by PacifiCorp and 20% by South Dakota Electric. This baseload plant is operated by PacifiCorp and our WRDC coal mine supplies all of the fuel for the plant.
(d)
Busch Ranch Wind Farm, a 29 MW wind farm, is operated by Colorado Electric. Colorado Electric has a 50% ownership interest in the wind farm and AltaGas owns the remaining 50%. Colorado Electric has a 25-year REPA with AltaGas for their 14.5 MW of power from the wind farm.
(e)
Peak View Wind Farm achieved commercial operation on November 7, 2016.
(f)
Colorado Electric’s 40 MW combustion turbine achieved commercial operation on December 29, 2016.

10


The Electric Utilities’ annual average cost of fuel utilized to generate electricity and the average price paid for purchased power (excluding contracted capacity) per MWh for the years ended December 31 is as follows:
Fuel Source (dollars per MWh)
2017
2016
2015
Coal
$
10.95

$
11.27

$
10.89

 
 
 
 
Natural Gas
$
34.05

$
30.59

$
51.14

 
 
 
 
Diesel Oil (a)
$
210.11

$
149.13

$
303.16

 
 
 
 
Total Average Fuel Cost
$
12.80

$
12.99

$
14.62

 
 
 
 
Purchased Power - Coal, Gas and Oil
$
45.63

$
48.36

$
47.81

 
 
 
 
Purchased Power - Renewable Sources
$
53.08

$
51.95

$
50.92

______________
(a)
Included in the Price per MWh for Diesel Oil are unit start-up costs. The diesel-fueled generating units are generally used as supplemental peaking units and the cost per MWh is reflective of how often the units are started and how long the units are run.

Our Electric Utilities’ power supply, by resource as a percent of the total power supply for our energy needs for the years ended December 31 is as follows:
Power Supply
2017
2016
2015
Coal
32
%
33
%
33
%
Gas, Oil and Wind
8

7

4

Total Generated
40

40

37

Purchased (a)
60

60

63

Total
100
%
100
%
100
%
______________
(a)
Wind represents approximately 6%, 7% and 5% of our purchased power in 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively.

Purchased Power. We have executed various agreements to support our Electric Utilities’ capacity and energy needs beyond our regulated power plants’ generation. Key contracts include:

South Dakota Electric’s PPA with PacifiCorp expiring on December 31, 2023, which provides for the purchase of 50 MW of coal-fired baseload power;

Colorado Electric’s PPA with Black Hills Colorado IPP expiring on December 31, 2031, which provides 200 MW of energy and capacity to Colorado Electric from Black Hills Colorado IPP’s combined-cycle turbines. This PPA is reported and accounted for as a capital lease within our business segments and is eliminated on the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements;

Colorado Electric’s PPA with AltaGas expiring on October 16, 2037, which provides up to 14.5 MW of wind energy from AltaGas’ owned interest in the Busch Ranch Wind Farm;

Wyoming Electric’s PPA with Black Hills Wyoming expiring on December 31, 2022, whereby Black Hills Wyoming provides 60 MW of unit-contingent capacity and energy from its Wygen I facility. The PPA includes an option for Wyoming Electric to purchase Black Hills Wyoming’s ownership interest in the Wygen I facility through 2019, subject to WPSC and FERC approval in order to obtain regulatory treatment. The purchase price related to the option is $2.6 million per MW (65 MWs), adjusted for all depreciated capital additions since 2009, and reduced by depreciation (approximately $5 million per year) over a 35-year life beginning January 1, 2009. The net book value of Wygen I at December 31, 2017 was $69 million and if Wyoming Electric had exercised the purchase option at year-end 2017, the estimated purchase price would have been approximately $133 million;

Wyoming Electric’s 20-year PPA with Duke Energy expiring on September 3, 2028, which provides up to 29.4 MW of wind energy from the Happy Jack Wind Farm to Wyoming Electric. Under a separate intercompany agreement,

11


Wyoming Electric sells 50% of the facility’s output to South Dakota Electric;

Wyoming Electric’s 20-year PPA with Duke Energy expiring on September 30, 2029, which provides up to 30 MW of wind energy from the Silver Sage wind farm to Wyoming Electric. Under a separate intercompany agreement, Wyoming Electric sells 20 MW of the facility’s output to South Dakota Electric; and

Wyoming Electric and South Dakota Electric’s Generation Dispatch Agreement requires South Dakota Electric to purchase all of Wyoming Electric’s excess energy.

Power Sales Agreements. Our Electric Utilities have various long-term power sales agreements. Key agreements include:

MDU owns a 25% interest in Wygen III’s net generating capacity for the life of the plant. During periods of reduced production at Wygen III, or during periods when Wygen III is off-line, South Dakota Electric will provide MDU with 25 MW from its other generation facilities or from system purchases with reimbursement of costs by MDU;

South Dakota Electric has an agreement through December 31, 2023 to provide MDU capacity and energy up to a maximum of 50 MW;

The City of Gillette owns a 23% interest in Wygen III’s net generating capacity for the life of the plant. During periods of reduced production at Wygen III, or during periods when Wygen III is off-line, South Dakota Electric will provide the City of Gillette with its first 23 MW from its other generation facilities or from system purchases with reimbursement of costs by the City of Gillette. Under this agreement, South Dakota Electric will also provide the City of Gillette its operating component of spinning reserves; and

South Dakota Electric has an agreement to supply up to 20 MW of energy and capacity to MEAN under a contract that expires in 2023. The terms of the contract run from June 1 through May 31 for each interval listed below. This contract is unit-contingent based on the availability of our Neil Simpson II and Wygen III plants, with decreasing capacity purchased over the term of the agreement. The unit-contingent capacity amounts from Wygen III and Neil Simpson II are as follows:
2018
20 MW - 10 MW contingent on Wygen III and 10 MW contingent on Neil Simpson II
2018-2020
15 MW - 10 MW contingent on Wygen III and 5 MW contingent on Neil Simpson II
2020-2022
12 MW - 6 MW contingent on Wygen III and 6 MW contingent on Neil Simpson II
2022-2023
10 MW - 5 MW contingent on Wygen III and 5 MW contingent on Neil Simpson II

South Dakota Electric has an agreement from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2021 to provide 50 MW of energy to Cargill (assigned to Macquarie on January 3, 2018) during heavy and light load timing intervals.

Transmission and Distribution. Through our Electric Utilities, we own electric transmission systems composed of high voltage transmission lines (greater than 69 kV) and low voltage lines (69 kV or less). We also jointly own high voltage lines with Basin Electric and Powder River Energy Corporation.

At December 31, 2017, our Electric Utilities owned the electric transmission and distribution lines shown below:
Utility
State
Transmission
(in Line Miles)
Distribution
(in Line Miles)
South Dakota Electric
South Dakota, Wyoming
1,264

2,506

South Dakota Electric - Jointly Owned (a)
South Dakota, Wyoming
44


Wyoming Electric
South Dakota, Wyoming
49

1,281

Colorado Electric
Colorado
602

3,093

__________________________
(a)
South Dakota Electric owns 35% of a DC transmission tie that interconnects the Western and Eastern transmission grids, which are independently-operated transmission grids serving the western United States and eastern United States, respectively. This transmission tie, which is 65% owned by Basin Electric, provides transmission access to both the WECC region in the West and the MAPP region in the East. The transfer capacity of the tie is 200 MW from West to East, and 200 MW from East to West. South Dakota Electric’s electric system is located in the WECC region. This transmission tie allows us to buy and sell energy in the Eastern grid without having to isolate and physically reconnect load or generation between the two transmission grids, thus enhancing the reliability of our system. It accommodates scheduling transactions in both directions simultaneously, provides additional opportunities to sell excess generation or

12


to make economic purchases to serve our native load and contract obligations, and enables us to take advantage of power price differentials between the two grids.

South Dakota Electric has firm point-to-point transmission access to deliver up to 50 MW of power on PacifiCorp’s transmission system to wholesale customers in the WECC region through 2023.

South Dakota Electric also has firm network transmission access to deliver power on PacifiCorp’s system to Sheridan, Wyoming, to serve our power sales contract with MDU through December 31, 2023, with the right to renew pursuant to the terms of PacifiCorp’s transmission tariff.

In order to serve Wyoming Electric’s existing load, Wyoming Electric has a network transmission agreement with Western Area Power Association’s Loveland Area Project.

Colorado Electric is party to a joint dispatch agreement between Colorado Electric, Public Service Company of Colorado “PSCo” and Platte River Power Authority.  This FERC-approved agreement, effective in 2017, is structured to allow PSCo, as administrator, to receive load and generation bid information for all three parties and, on an intra-hour basis, serve the combined utility load utilizing the combined bid generating resources on a least-cost basis.  In other words, if one party has excess generation at a lower cost than another party’s generation, the administrator will increase dispatch of the lower-cost generation and decrease dispatch of the higher-cost generation.  This results in lower energy costs to customers through more efficient dispatch of low-cost generating resources. Under the agreement, Colorado Electric retains the ability to participate or not participate in the joint dispatch at its discretion.

Operating Agreements. Our Electric Utilities have the following material operating agreements:

Shared Services Agreements -

South Dakota Electric, Wyoming Electric, and Black Hills Wyoming are parties to a shared facilities agreement, whereby each entity charges for the use of assets by the affiliate entity.

Black Hills Colorado IPP and Colorado Electric are also parties to a facility fee agreement, whereby Colorado Electric charges Black Hills Colorado IPP for the use of Colorado Electric assets.

South Dakota Electric and Wyoming Electric receive certain staffing and management services from BHSC for Cheyenne Prairie.

Jointly Owned Facilities -

South Dakota Electric, the City of Gillette and MDU are parties to a shared joint ownership agreement, whereby South Dakota Electric charges the City of Gillette and MDU for administrative services, plant operations and maintenance for their share of the Wygen III generating facility for the life of the plant.

Colorado Electric and AltaGas are parties to a shared joint ownership agreement whereby Colorado Electric charges AltaGas for operations and maintenance for their share of the Busch Ranch Wind Farm.

Seasonal Variations of Business. Our Electric Utilities are seasonal businesses and weather patterns may impact their operating performance. Demand for electricity is sensitive to seasonal cooling, heating and industrial load requirements, as well as market price. In particular, demand is often greater in the summer and winter months for cooling and heating, respectively. Because our Electric Utilities have a diverse customer and revenue base, and we have historically optimized the utilization of our electric power supply resources, the impact on our operations may not be as significant when weather conditions are warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Competition. We generally have limited competition for the retail generation and distribution of electricity in our service areas. Various restructuring and competitive initiatives have been discussed in several of the states in which our utilities operate. These initiatives would be aimed at increasing competition or providing for distributed generation. To date, these initiatives have not had a material impact on our utilities. In Colorado, our electric utility is subject to rules which may require competitive bidding for generation supply. Because of these rules, we face competition from other utilities and non-affiliated independent power producers for the right to provide electric energy and capacity for Colorado Electric when resource plans require additional resources.


13


Rates and Regulation. Our Electric Utilities are subject to the jurisdiction of the public utilities commissions in the states where they operate. The commissions oversee services and facilities, rates and charges, accounting, valuation of property, depreciation rates and various other matters. The public utility commissions determine the rates we are allowed to charge for our utility services. Rate decisions are influenced by many factors, including the cost of providing service, capital expenditures, the prudence of costs we incur, views concerning appropriate rates of return, the rates of other utilities, general economic conditions and the political environment. Certain commissions also have jurisdiction over the issuance of debt or securities, and the creation of liens on property located in their states to secure bonds or other securities. The following table provides regulatory information for each of our electric utilities:

Subsidiary
Jurisdic-tion
Authorized Rate of Return on Equity
Authorized Return on Rate Base
Authorized Capital Structure Debt/Equity
Authorized Rate Base (in millions)
Effective Date
Additional Tariffed Mechanisms
Percentage of Power Marketing Profit Shared with Customers
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
South Dakota Electric
WY
9.9%
8.13%
46.7%/53.3%
$46.8
10/2014
ECA
65%
 
SD
Global Settlement
7.76%
Global Settlement
$543.9
10/2014
ECA, TCA, Energy Efficiency Cost Recovery/DSM
70%
 
SD
 
7.76%
 
 
5/2014
Transmission Facility Adjustment (TFA)
N/A
 
SD
 
7.76%
 
 
6/2011
Environmental Improvement Adjustment Tariff
N/A
 
FERC
10.8%
9.10%
43%/57%
 
2/2009
FERC Transmission Tariff
N/A
Wyoming Electric
WY
9.9%
7.98%
46%/54%
$376.8
10/2014
PCA, Energy Efficiency Cost Recovery/DSM, Rate Base Recovery on Acquisition Adjustment
N/A
 
FERC
10.6%
8.51%
46%/54%
$31.5
5/2014
FERC Transmission Tariff
N/A
Colorado Electric
CO
9.37%
7.43%
47.6%/52.4%
$539.6
1/2017
ECA, TCA, PCCA, Energy Efficiency Cost Recovery/DSM, Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment
90%
 
CO
9.37%
6.02%
67.3%/32.7%
$57.9
1/2017
Clean Air Clean Jobs Act Adjustment Rider
N/A

The regulatory provisions for recovering the costs to supply electricity vary by state. In all states, subject to thresholds noted below, we have cost adjustment mechanisms for our Electric Utilities that allow us to pass the prudently-incurred cost of fuel and purchased power through to customers. These mechanisms allow the utility operating in that state to collect, or refund, the difference between the cost of commodities and certain services embedded in our base rates and the actual cost of the commodities and certain services without filing a general rate review. Some states in which our utilities operate also allow the utility operating in that state to automatically adjust rates periodically for the cost of new transmission or environmental improvements and, in some instances, the utility has the opportunity to earn its authorized return on new capital investment immediately.

The significant mechanisms we have in place include the following by utility and state:

South Dakota Electric has:

An annual adjustment clause which provides for the direct recovery of increased fuel and purchased power cost incurred to serve South Dakota customers. Additionally, the ECA contains an off-system sales sharing mechanism in which South Dakota customers will receive a credit equal to 100% of off-system power marketing operating income from the first $2 million of power marketing margin from short-term sales and a credit equal to 70% of power marketing margins from short-term sales in excess of the first $2 million. South Dakota Electric retains the additional 30%. The ECA methodology allows us to directly assign renewable resources and firm purchases to the customer load. In Wyoming, a similar fuel and purchased power cost adjustment is also in place.

An approved annual Environmental Improvement Adjustment (EIA) tariff which recovers costs associated with generation plant environmental improvements. The EIA and TFA were suspended for a six-year period effective July

14


1, 2017. See Note 13 in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information.

An approved FERC Transmission Tariff based on a formulaic approach that determines the revenue component of South Dakota Electric’s open access transmission tariff.

In Wyoming, Wyoming Electric has:

An annual cost adjustment mechanism that allows us to pass the prudently-incurred costs of fuel and purchased power through to electric customers. The annual cost adjustment allows for recovery of 85% of coal and coal-related cost per kWh variances from base, and recovery of 95% of purchased power, transmission, and natural gas cost per kWh variances from base.

An approved FERC Transmission Tariff that determines the revenue component of Wyoming Electric’s open access transmission tariff.

In Colorado, Colorado Electric has:

A quarterly ECA rider that allows us to recover forecasted increases or decreases in purchased energy and fuel costs, including the recovery for amounts payable to others for the transmission of the utility's electricity over transmission facilities owned by others, symmetrical interest, and the sharing of off-system sales margins, less certain operating costs (customer receives 90%). The ECA provides for not only direct recovery, but also for the issuance of credits for decreases in purchased energy, fuel costs and eligible energy resources.

Colorado allows an annual TCA rider that includes nine months of actual transmission investment and three months of forecasted investment, with an annual true-up mechanism.

The Clean Air Clean Jobs Act Adjustment rider rate collects the authorized revenue requirement for the 40 MW combustion turbine placed in service on December 31, 2016 with rates effective January 1, 2017.

The Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment rider is specifically designed for meeting the requirements of Colorado’s renewable energy standard and most recently includes cost recovery for the Peak View Wind Project.

See Note 13 in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information regarding current electric rate activity.



15


Operating Statistics. The following tables summarize information for our Electric Utilities:

Degree Days
2017
2016
2015
 
Actual
Variance from 30-Year Average (b)
Actual
Variance from 30-Year Average (b)
Actual
Variance from 30-Year Average (b)
Heating Degree Days:
 
 
 
 
 
 
South Dakota Electric
6,870

(4)%
6,402

(10)%
6,521

(8)%
Wyoming Electric
6,623

(12)%
6,363

(14)%
6,404

(10)%
Colorado Electric
4,693

(16)%
4,658

(16)%
4,846

(12)%
Combined (a)
5,826

(11)%
5,595

(13)%
5,729

(10)%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cooling Degree Days:
 
 
 
 
 
 
South Dakota Electric
709

11%
646

(4)%
577

(14)%
Wyoming Electric
429

23%
460

31%
407

16%
Colorado Electric
1,027

14%
1,358

42%
1,270

32%
Combined (a)
798

14%
935

26%
861

16%
________________
(a)
The combined heating degree days are calculated based on a weighted average of total customers by state.
(b)
30-Year Average is from NOAA Climate Normals.

 
 
Electric Revenue (in thousands)
 
Quantities sold (MWh)
 
 
2017
2016
2015
 
2017
2016
2015
Residential
 
$
210,172

$
208,725

$
209,664

 
1,390,952

1,395,097

1,399,901

Commercial
 
258,754

258,768

258,539

 
2,038,495

2,067,486

2,031,556

Industrial
 
122,958

118,181

112,255

 
1,598,755

1,515,553

1,399,641

Municipal
 
18,144

17,821

17,863

 
160,882

162,383

159,496

Subtotal Retail Revenue - Electric
 
610,028

603,495

598,321

 
5,189,084

5,140,519

4,990,594

Contract Wholesale
 
30,435

17,037

17,537

 
722,659

246,630

260,893

Off-system/Power Marketing Wholesale
 
21,111

22,355

29,726

 
661,263

769,843

1,000,085

Other
 
43,076

34,394

34,259

 



Total Revenue and Energy Sold
 
704,650

677,281

679,843

 
6,573,006

6,156,992

6,251,572

Other Uses, Losses or Generation, net
 



 
468,179

433,400

414,159

Total Revenue and Energy
 
704,650

677,281

679,843

 
7,041,185

6,590,392

6,665,731

Less cost of fuel and purchased power
 
268,405

261,349

269,409

 
 
 
 
Gross Margin
 
$
436,245

$
415,932

$
410,434

 
 
 
 
 
 
Electric Revenue (in thousands)
 
Gross Margin (a) (in thousands)
 
Quantities Sold (MWh) (b)
 
 
2017
2016
2015
 
2017
2016
2015
 
2017
2016
2015
South Dakota Electric
 
$
288,433

$
267,632

$
277,864

 
$
200,795

$
192,606

$
194,524

 
3,187,392

2,767,315

3,040,703

Wyoming Electric
 
165,127

157,606

150,156

 
89,371

85,036

83,537

 
1,762,117

1,677,421

1,530,628

Colorado Electric
 
251,090

252,043

251,823

 
146,079

138,290

132,373

 
2,091,676

2,145,656

2,094,400

Total Revenue, Gross Margin, and Quantities Sold
 
$
704,650

$
677,281

$
679,843

 
$
436,245

$
415,932

$
410,434

 
7,041,185

6,590,392

6,665,731

________________
(a)
Non-GAAP measure
(b)
Total MWh includes Other Uses, Losses or Generation, net, which is approximately 6%, 7%, and 8% for South Dakota Electric, Wyoming Electric, and Colorado Electric, respectively.


16


Quantities Generated and Purchased (MWh)
2017
2016
2015
 
 
 
 
Coal-fired
2,230,617

2,201,757

2,228,377

Natural Gas and Oil
307,815

343,001

230,320

Wind
239,472

80,582

41,043

Total Generated
2,777,904

2,625,340

2,499,740

Purchased
4,263,281

3,965,052

4,165,991

Total Generated and Purchased
7,041,185

6,590,392

6,665,731


Quantities Generated and Purchased (MWh)
2017
2016
2015
Generated:
 
 
 
South Dakota Electric
1,581,915

1,585,870

1,618,688

Wyoming Electric
798,024

805,351

739,277

Colorado Electric
397,965

234,119

141,775

Total Generated
2,777,904

2,625,340

2,499,740

Purchased:



South Dakota Electric
1,605,477

1,181,445

1,422,015

Wyoming Electric
964,093

872,070

791,351

Colorado Electric
1,693,711

1,911,537

1,952,625

Total Purchased
4,263,281

3,965,052

4,165,991

 




Total Generated and Purchased
7,041,185

6,590,392

6,665,731

Customers at End of Year
2017
2016
2015
Residential
179,911

178,333

176,901

Commercial
29,354

29,086

29,172

Industrial
86

88

87

Other
914

1,001

1,027

Total Electric Customers at End of Year
210,265

208,508

207,187


Customers at End of Year
2017
2016
2015
South Dakota Electric
72,184

71,353

70,733

Wyoming Electric
42,130

41,531

41,422

Colorado Electric
95,951

95,624

95,032

Total Electric Customers at End of Year
210,265

208,508

207,187



17



Gas Utilities Segment

We conduct natural gas utility operations through our Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming subsidiaries. On February 12, 2016, we acquired SourceGas Holdings, LLC, adding four regulated natural gas utilities serving approximately 431,000 customers in Arkansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming and a 512 mile regulated intrastate natural gas transmission pipeline in Colorado. Our Gas Utilities transport and distribute natural gas through our distribution network to approximately 1,042,000 customers. Additionally, we sell contractual pipeline capacity and gas commodities to other utilities and marketing companies, including our affiliates, on an as available basis.

We also provide non-regulated services through Black Hills Energy Services. Black Hills Energy Services has approximately 52,000 retail distribution customers in Nebraska and Wyoming providing unbundled natural gas commodity offerings under the regulatory-approved Choice Gas Program. We also sell, install and service air, heating and water-heating equipment, and provide associated repair service and appliance protection plans under various trade names. Service Guard and CAPP provide appliance repair services to approximately 63,000 and 31,000 residential customers, respectively, through Company technicians and third-party service providers, typically through on-going monthly service agreements. Tech Services serves gas transportation customers throughout our service territory by constructing and maintaining customer-owned gas infrastructure facilities, typically through one-time contracts.

We procure natural gas for our distribution customers from a diverse mix of producers, processors and marketers and generally use hedging, physical fixed-price purchases and market-based price purchases to achieve dollar-cost averaging within our natural gas portfolio. The majority of our procured natural gas is transported in interstate pipelines under firm transportation service agreements with Colorado Interstate Gas Company, Enable Gas Transmission, Tallgrass Interstate Gas Transmission, Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America, Northern Natural Gas, Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company, Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Black Hills Shoshone Pipeline, TransColorado Gas Transmission, WBI Energy Transmission, Rocky Mountain Natural Gas, Ozark Gas Transmission, Liberty Utilities, Texas Eastern Transmission Pipeline, WestGas InterState Pipeline, Public Service Company of Colorado and Red Cedar Gas Gathering.

In addition to company-owned storage assets in Wyoming, Colorado and Arkansas, we also contract with many of the third-party transportation providers noted above for natural gas storage service to provide gas supply during the winter heating season and to meet peak day customer demand for natural gas.

The following table summarizes certain information regarding our regulated underground gas storage facilities as of December 31, 2017:
 
State
Working Capacity (Mcf)
Cushion Gas (Mcf) (a)
Total Capacity (Mcf)
Maximum Daily Withdrawal Capability (Mcfd)
 
 
Arkansas
8,442,700

12,950,000

21,392,700

196,000

 
Colorado
2,360,895

6,165,315

8,526,210

30,000

 
Wyoming
5,733,900

17,145,600

22,879,500

32,950

 
Total
16,537,495

36,260,915

52,798,410

258,950

________________
(a)
Cushion gas represents the volume of gas that must be retained in a facility to maintain reservoir pressure.

The following tables summarize certain operating information for our Gas Utilities.

System Infrastructure (in line miles) as of
Intrastate Gas
Transmission Pipelines
Gas Distribution
Mains
Gas Distribution
Service Lines
December 31, 2017
Arkansas
926

4,654

919

Colorado
683

6,569

2,399

Nebraska
1,256

8,467

3,219

Iowa
163

2,777

2,653

Kansas
325

2,855

1,337

Wyoming
1,303

3,396

1,210

Total
4,656

28,718

11,737


18




Degree Days
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
Actual
Variance From
30-Year Average (d)
 
Actual
Variance From
30-Year Average (d)
 
Actual
Variance From
30-Year Average (d)
Heating Degree Days:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Arkansas (a)
3,295

(19)%
 
2,397

(41)%
 

—%
Colorado
5,728

(14)%
 
5,762

(13)%
 
5,527

(12)%
Nebraska
5,554

(10)%
 
5,457

(12)%
 
5,350

(12)%
Iowa
6,149

(9)%
 
5,997

(11)%
 
6,629

(2)%
Kansas (a)
4,452

(9)%
 
4,307

(12)%
 
4,432

(9)%
Wyoming
7,123

(5)%
 
6,750

(10)%
 
6,404

(10)%
Combined (b) (c)
5,862

(10)%
 
5,823

(11)%
 
5,890

(8)%
________________
(a)
Kansas and Arkansas have weather normalization mechanisms which mitigate the weather impact on gross margins.
(b)
The combined heating degree days are calculated based on a weighted average of total customers by state excluding Kansas Gas due to its weather normalization mechanism. Arkansas Gas Distribution is partially excluded based on the weather normalization mechanism in effect from November through April.
(c)
To conform to the current year comparisons to normal, the 2016 utility variances compared to normal, as well as the 2016 combined variance compared to normal have been updated.
(d)
30-Year Average is from NOAA climate normals.

Seasonal Variations of Business. Our Gas Utilities are seasonal businesses and weather patterns may impact their operating performance. Demand for natural gas is sensitive to seasonal heating and industrial load requirements, as well as market price. In particular, demand is often greater in the winter months for heating. Natural gas is used primarily for residential and commercial heating, so the demand for this product depends heavily upon weather throughout our service territories, and as a result, a significant amount of natural gas revenue is normally recognized in the heating season consisting of the first and fourth quarters. Demand for natural gas can also be impacted by summer weather patterns that are cooler than normal and provide higher than normal precipitation; both of which can reduce natural gas demand for irrigation.

Competition. We generally have limited competition for the retail distribution of natural gas in our service areas. Various restructuring and competitive initiatives have been discussed in several of the states in which our utilities operate. These initiatives would be aimed at increasing competition. To date, these initiatives have not had a material impact on our utilities. Although we face competition from independent marketers for the sale of natural gas to our industrial and commercial customers, in instances where independent marketers displace us as the seller of natural gas, we still collect a distribution charge for transporting the gas through our distribution network.


19



Rates and Regulation. Our Gas Utilities are subject to the jurisdiction of the public utilities commissions in the states where they operate. The commissions oversee services and facilities, rates and charges, accounting, valuation of property, depreciation rates and various other matters. The public utility commissions determine the rates we are allowed to charge for our utility services. Rate decisions are influenced by many factors, including the cost of providing service, capital expenditures, the prudence of costs we incur, views concerning appropriate rates of return, the rates of other utilities, general economic conditions and the political environment. Certain commissions also have jurisdiction over the issuance of debt or securities, and the creation of liens on property located in their states to secure bonds or other securities.

Our Gas Utilities are authorized to use natural gas cost recovery mechanisms that allow them to adjust their rates to reflect changes in the wholesale cost of natural gas and to ensure that they recover all the costs prudently incurred in purchasing gas for their customers.  In addition to natural gas recovery mechanisms, we have other cost recovery mechanisms, such as regulatory riders, which vary by utility but allow us to recover certain costs, such as those related to energy efficiency plans and system safety and integrity investments.  The following table provides regulatory information for each of our natural gas utilities:
Subsidiary
Jurisdic-tion
Authorized Rate of Return on Equity
Authorized Return on Rate Base
Authorized Capital Structure Debt/Equity
Authorized Rate Base (in millions)
Effective Date
Additional Tariffed Mechanisms
Gas Utilities:
 
 
 
 
 
 
Arkansas Gas (a)
AR
9.4%
6.47% (b)
52%/48%
$299.4 (c)
2/2016
GCA, Main Replacement Program, At-Risk Meter Relocation Program, Legislative/Regulatory Mandate and Relocations Rider, Energy Efficiency, Weather Normalization Adjustment, Billing Determinant Adjustment

Colorado Gas
CO
9.6%
8.41%
50%/50%
$64.0
12/2012
GCA, Energy Efficiency Cost Recovery/DSM
Colorado Gas Dist.(a)
CO
10.0%
8.02%
49.52%/ 50.48%
$127.1
12/2010
GCA, DSM

RMNG (a)
CO
10.6%
7.93%
49.23%/ 50.77%
$90.5
3/2014
System Safety Integrity Rider, Liquids/Off-system/Market Center Services Revenue Sharing

Iowa Gas
IA
Global Settlement
Global Settlement
Global Settlement
$109.2
2/2011
GCA, Energy Efficiency Cost Recovery/DSM/Capital Infrastructure Automatic Adjustment Mechanism, Gas Supply Optimization revenue sharing
Kansas Gas
KS
Global Settlement
Global Settlement
Global Settlement
$127.4
1/2015
GCA, Weather Normalization Tariff, Gas System Reliability Surcharge, Ad Valorem Tax Surcharge, Cost of Bad Debt Collected through GCA, Pension Levelized Adjustment
Nebraska Gas
NE
10.1%
9.11%
48%/52%
$161.3
9/2010
GCA, Cost of Bad Debt Collected through GCA, Infrastructure System Replacement Cost Recovery Surcharge
Nebraska Gas Dist. (a)
NE
9.6%
7.67%
48.84%/
51.16%
$87.6/$69.8 (d)
6/2012
Choice Gas Program, System Safety and Integrity Rider, Bad Debt expense recovered through Choice supplier fee

Wyoming Gas
WY
9.9%
7.98%
46%/54%
$59.6
10/2014
GCA, Energy Efficiency Cost Recovery/DSM, Rate Base Recovery on Acquisition Adjustment
Wyoming Gas Dist. (a)
WY
9.92%
7.98%
49.66%/
50.34%
$100.5
1/2011
Choice Gas Program, Purchased GCA, Usage Per Customer Adjustment

__________
(a)
Acquired through SourceGas
(b)
Arkansas return on rate base adjusted to remove current liabilities from rate case capital structure for comparison with other subsidiaries.
(c)
Arkansas rate base is adjusted to include current liabilities for comparison with other subsidiaries.
(d)
Total Nebraska rate base of $87.6 million includes amounts allocated to serve non-jurisdictional and agricultural customers. Jurisdictional Nebraska rate base of $69.8 million excludes those amounts allocated to serve non-jurisdictional and agricultural customers and is used for calculation of jurisdictional base rates.


20



All of our Gas Utilities, except where ChoiceGas is the only option, have GCAs that allow us to pass the prudently-incurred cost of gas and certain services through to the customer between rate reviews. Some of the mechanisms we have in place include the following:
Gas Utility Jurisdiction
Cost Recovery Mechanisms
DSM/Energy Efficiency
Integrity Additions
Bad Debt
Weather Normal
Pension Recovery
Gas Cost
Billing Determinant Adjustment
Revenue Decoupling
Arkansas Gas
þ
þ
 
þ
 
þ
þ
 
Colorado Gas
þ
 
 
 
 
þ
 
 
Colorado Gas Dist.
þ
 
 
 
 
þ
 
 
Rocky Mountain Natural Gas
N/A
þ
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Iowa Gas
þ
þ
 
 
 
þ
 
 
Kansas Gas
 
þ
þ
þ
þ
þ
 
 
Nebraska Gas
 
þ
þ
 
 
þ
 
 
Nebraska Gas Dist.
 
þ
þ
 
 
þ
 
 
Wyoming Gas (a)
þ
 
 
 
 
þ
 
 
Wyoming Gas Dist.
 
 
 
 
 
þ
 
þ
__________
(a) This is only applicable to Cheyenne Light and does not apply to our other Wyoming gas utilities.

See Note 13 in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for information regarding current natural gas rate activity.

Operating Statistics

2016 includes results from the acquired SourceGas utilities starting February 12, 2016.
 
 
Revenue (in thousands)
 
Gross Margin (a) (in thousands)
 
 
2017
2016
2015
 
2017
2016
2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Residential
 
$
499,852

$
433,106

$
342,145

 
$
255,626

$
228,512

$
155,759

Commercial
 
197,054

162,547

117,574

 
78,249

67,375

38,492

Industrial
 
24,454

21,245

22,398

 
6,226

5,601

4,303

Other
 
8,647

12,694

8,065

 
8,647

12,694

7,995

Total Distribution
 
730,007

629,592

490,182

 
348,748

314,182

206,549

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Transportation and Transmission
 
135,824

139,490

29,816

 
135,824

139,282

29,816

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total Regulated
 
865,831

769,082

519,998

 
484,572

453,464

236,365

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Non-regulated Services
 
81,799

69,261

31,302

 
53,455

32,714

15,290

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total Revenue & Gross Margin
 
$
947,630

$
838,343

$
551,300

 
$
538,027

$
486,178

$
251,655


 
 
Revenue (in thousands)
 
Gross Margin (a) (in thousands)
 
 
2017
2016
2015
 
2017
2016
2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Arkansas
 
$
153,691

$
106,958

$

 
$
94,007

$
69,840

$

Colorado
 
180,852

153,003

73,854

 
100,718

86,016

25,387

Nebraska
 
252,631

244,992

170,972

 
154,259

146,831

82,877

Iowa
 
143,446

130,776

147,952

 
66,619

64,170

63,496

Kansas
 
105,576

100,670

114,362

 
53,841

54,247

57,888

Wyoming
 
111,434

101,944

44,160

 
68,583

65,074

22,007

Total Revenue & Gross Margin
 
$
947,630

$
838,343

$
551,300

 
$
538,027

$
486,178

$
251,655

__________
(a) Non-GAAP measure


21



 
Quantities
Gas Utilities Quantities Sold & Transported (Dth)
2017
2016
2015
 
 
 
 
Residential
54,645,598

49,390,451

35,649,700

Commercial
27,315,871

24,037,861

15,765,242

Industrial
5,855,053

5,737,430

5,208,455

Other


14,902

Total Distribution Quantities Sold
87,816,522

79,165,742

56,638,299

 
 
 
 
Transportation and Transmission
141,600,080

126,927,565

77,393,775

 
 
 
 
Total Quantities Sold & Transported
229,416,602

206,093,307

134,032,074


 
Quantities
Gas Utilities Quantities Sold & Transported (Dth)
2017
2016
2015
 
 
 
 
Arkansas
26,491,537

19,177,438


Colorado
28,436,744

23,656,891

9,288,030

Nebraska
73,890,509

67,796,021

43,992,986

Iowa
37,013,645

35,383,990

35,490,228

Kansas
28,251,947

26,463,314

28,086,737

Wyoming
35,332,220

33,615,653

17,174,093

Total Quantities Sold & Transported
229,416,602

206,093,307

134,032,074


Customers at End of Year
2017
2016
2015
 
 
 
 
Residential
806,744

800,980

533,413

Commercial
86,461

84,049

50,175

Industrial
2,214

2,050

1,859

Transportation/Other
146,839

143,673

5,962

Total Customers at End of Year
1,042,258

1,030,752

591,409


Customers at End of Year
2017
2016
2015
 
 
 
 
Arkansas
169,303

166,512


Colorado
181,876

177,394

78,434

Nebraska
290,264

289,653

201,261

Iowa
157,444

156,014

155,196

Kansas
114,082

112,957

112,364

Wyoming
129,289

128,222

44,154

Total Customers at End of Year
1,042,258

1,030,752

591,409



22



Utility Regulation Characteristics

State Regulations

Certain states where we conduct electric utility operations have adopted renewable energy portfolio standards that require or encourage our Electric Utilities to source, by a certain future date, a minimum percentage of the electricity delivered to customers from renewable energy generation facilities. As of December 31, 2017, we were subject to the following renewable energy portfolio standards or objectives:

Colorado. Colorado adopted a renewable energy standard that has two components: (i) electric resource standards and (ii) a 2% maximum annual retail rate impact for compliance with the electric resource standards. The electric resource standards require our Colorado Electric subsidiary to generate, or cause to be generated, electricity from renewable energy sources equaling: (i) 20% of retail sales from 2015 to 2019; and (ii) 30% of retail sales by 2020. Of these amounts, 3% must be generated from distributed generation sources with one-half of these resources being located at customer facilities. The net annual incremental retail rate impact from these renewable resource acquisitions (as compared to non-renewable resources) is limited to 2%. The standard encourages the CPUC to consider earlier and timely cost recovery for utility investment in renewable resources, including the use of a forward rider mechanism. We are currently in compliance with these standards.

Colorado Electric received a settlement agreement of its electric resource plan filed June 3, 2016, to meet requirements under the Colorado Renewable Energy Standard. The settlement, effective February 6, 2017, includes the addition of 60 megawatts of renewable energy to be in service by 2019 and provides for additional small solar and community solar gardens as part of the compliance plan. In the second quarter of 2017, Colorado Electric issued a request for proposals to construct new generation and presented the results to the CPUC on February 9, 2018. We expect a final decision from the CPUC in the second quarter of 2018 approving, conditioning, modifying or rejecting Colorado Electric’s recommended portfolio.

On November 7, 2016, Colorado Electric took ownership of Peak View, a $109 million, 60 MW wind project located near Colorado Electric's Busch Ranch Wind Farm. Peak View achieved commercial operation on November 7, 2016 and was purchased via progress payments throughout 2016 under a commission approved third-party build transfer and settlement agreement. This renewable energy project was originally submitted in response to Colorado Electric’s all-source generation request on May 5, 2014. The Commission’s settlement agreement provides for recovery of the costs of the project through Colorado Electric’s Electric Cost Adjustments and Renewable Energy Standard Surcharge for 10 years and recovery through the Transmission Cost Adjustment, after which Colorado Electric can propose base rate recovery. Colorado Electric will be required to make an annual comparison of the cost of the renewable energy generated by the facility against the bid cost of a PPA from the same facility.

Montana. In 2005, Montana established a renewable portfolio standard that requires public utilities to obtain a percentage of their retail electricity sales from eligible renewable resources. In March 2013, South Dakota Electric filed a petition with the MTPSC requesting a waiver of the renewable portfolio standards primarily due to exceeding the applicable “cost cap” included in the standards. In March 2013, the Montana Legislature adopted legislation that had the effect of excluding South Dakota Electric from all renewable portfolio standard requirements under State Senate Bill 164, primarily due to the very low number of customers we have in Montana and the relatively high cost of meeting the renewable requirements.

South Dakota. South Dakota has adopted a renewable portfolio objective that encourages, but does not mandate utilities to generate, or cause to be generated, at least 10% of their retail electricity supply from renewable energy sources by 2015.

Wyoming. Wyoming currently has no renewable energy portfolio standard.

Absent a specific renewable energy mandate in the territories we serve, our current strategy is to prudently incorporate renewable energy into our resource supply, seeking to minimize associated rate increases for our utility customers. Mandatory portfolio standards have increased and would likely continue to increase the power supply costs of our Electric Utility operations. Although we will seek to recover these higher costs in rates, we can provide no assurance that we will be able to secure full recovery of the costs we pay to be in compliance with standards or objectives. We cannot at this time reasonably forecast the potential costs associated with any new renewable energy standards that have been or may be proposed at the federal or state level.

23



Federal Regulation

Energy Policy Act. Black Hills Corporation is a holding company whose assets consist primarily of investments in our subsidiaries, including subsidiaries that are public utilities and holding companies regulated by FERC under the Federal Power Act and PUHCA 2005.

Federal Power Act. The Federal Power Act gives FERC exclusive rate-making jurisdiction over wholesale sales of electricity and the transmission of electricity in interstate commerce. Pursuant to the Federal Power Act, all public utilities subject to FERC’s jurisdiction must maintain tariffs and rate schedules on file with FERC that govern the rates, terms and conditions for the provision of FERC-jurisdictional wholesale power and transmission services. Public utilities are also subject to accounting, record-keeping and reporting requirements administered by FERC. FERC also places certain limitations on transactions between public utilities and their affiliates. Our public Electric Utility subsidiaries provide FERC-jurisdictional services subject to FERC’s oversight.

Our Electric Utilities, Black Hills Colorado IPP and Black Hills Wyoming are authorized by FERC to make wholesale sales of electric capacity and energy at market-based rates under tariffs on file with FERC. As a condition of their market-based rate authority, each files Electric Quarterly Reports with FERC. South Dakota Electric owns and operates FERC-jurisdictional interstate transmission facilities and provides open access transmission service under tariffs on file with FERC. Our Electric Utilities are subject to routine audit by FERC with respect to their compliance with FERC’s regulations.

The Federal Power Act authorizes FERC to certify and oversee a national electric reliability organization with authority to promulgate and enforce mandatory reliability standards applicable to all users, owners and operators of the bulk-power system. FERC has certified NERC as the electric reliability organization. NERC has promulgated mandatory reliability standards and NERC, in conjunction with regional reliability organizations that operate under FERC’s and NERC’s authority and oversight, enforces those mandatory reliability standards.

PUHCA 2005. PUHCA 2005 gives FERC authority with respect to the books and records of a utility holding company. As a utility holding company with centralized service company subsidiaries, BHSC and Black Hills Utility Holdings, we are subject to FERC’s authority under PUHCA 2005.

Power Generation Segment

Our Power Generation segment, which operates through Black Hills Electric Generation and its subsidiaries, acquires, develops and operates our non-regulated power plants. As of December 31, 2017, we held varying interests in independent power plants operating in Wyoming and Colorado with a total net ownership of approximately 269 MW.

We produce electric power from our generating plants and sell the electric capacity and energy, primarily to affiliates under a combination of mid- to long-term contracts, which mitigates the impact of a potential downturn in future power prices. We currently sell a substantial majority of our non-regulated generating capacity under contracts having terms greater than one year.

As of December 31, 2017, the power plant ownership interests held by our Power Generation segment included:
Power Plants
Fuel Type
Location
Ownership
Interest
Owned Capacity (MW)
In Service Date
Wygen I
Coal
Gillette, Wyoming
76.5%
68.9

2003
Pueblo Airport Generation (a)
Gas
Pueblo, Colorado
50.1%
200.0

2012
 
 
 
 
268.9

 
_________________________
(a)
Black Hills Colorado IPP owns and operates this facility. This facility provides capacity and energy to Colorado Electric under a 20-year PPA with Colorado Electric. This PPA is accounted for as a capital lease on the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements.

Black Hills Wyoming - Wygen I. The Wygen I generation facility is a mine-mouth, coal-fired power plant with a total capacity of 90 MW located at our Gillette, Wyoming energy complex. We own 76.5% of the plant and MEAN owns the remaining 23.5%. We sell 60 MW of unit-contingent capacity and energy from this plant to Wyoming Electric under a PPA that expires on December 31, 2022. The PPA includes an option for Wyoming Electric to purchase Black Hills Wyoming’s ownership interest in the Wygen I facility through 2019. The purchase price related to the option is $2.6 million per MW (65 MWs),

24



adjusted for all depreciated capital additions since 2009, and reduced by depreciation (approximately $5 million per year) over a 35-year life beginning January 1, 2009. The net book value of Wygen I at December 31, 2017 was $69 million and if Wyoming Electric had exercised the purchase option at year-end 2017, the estimated purchase price would have been approximately $133 million. We sell excess power from our generating capacity into the wholesale power markets when it is available and economical to do so.

Black Hills Colorado IPP - Pueblo Airport Generation. The Pueblo Airport Generating Station consists of two 100 MW combined-cycle gas-fired power generation plants located at a site shared with Colorado Electric. The plants commenced operation on January 1, 2012 and the assets are accounted for as a capital lease under a 20-year PPA with Colorado Electric, which expires on December 31, 2031. Under the PPA with Colorado Electric, any excess capacity and energy shall be for the benefit of Colorado Electric.

Sale of Noncontrolling Interest in Subsidiary

On April 14, 2016, Black Hills Electric Generation sold a 49.9%, noncontrolling interest in Black Hills Colorado IPP for $216 million to a third party buyer. FERC approval of the sale was received on March 29, 2016. Black Hills Electric Generation is the operator of the facility, which is contracted to provide capacity and energy through 2031 to Black Hills Colorado Electric. Proceeds from the sale were used to pay down short-term debt and for other general corporate purposes. The operating results for Black Hills Colorado IPP remain consolidated with Black Hills Electric Generation, as Black Hills Colorado IPP has been determined to be a variable interest entity (VIE) in which the Company has a variable interest.

The following table summarizes MWh for our Power Generation segment:
Quantities Sold, Generated and Purchased (MWh) (a)
2017
2016
2015
Sold
 
 
 
Black Hills Colorado IPP (b)
943,618

1,223,949

1,133,190

Black Hills Wyoming (c)
645,810

644,564

663,052

Total Sold
1,589,428

1,868,513

1,796,242

 



Generated
 
 
 
Black Hills Colorado IPP (b)
943,618

1,223,949

1,133,190

Black Hills Wyoming
577,124

543,546

561,930

Total Generated
1,520,742

1,767,495

1,695,120

 
 
 
 
Purchased
 
 
 
Black Hills Wyoming (b)
69,377

85,993

68,744

Total Purchased
69,377

85,993

68,744

____________________
(a)
Company use and losses are not included in the quantities sold, generated and purchased.
(b)
The decrease in 2017 is driven by the joint dispatch agreement Colorado Electric joined in 2017. See details of this agreement above in the Electric Utilities segment.
(c)
Under the 20-year economy energy PPA with the City of Gillette, effective September 2014, Black Hills Wyoming purchases energy on behalf of the City of Gillette and sells that energy to the City of Gillette.

Operating Agreements. Our Power Generation segment has the following material operating agreements:

Economy Energy PPA and other ancillary agreements

Black Hills Wyoming sold its CTII 40 MW natural gas-fired generating unit to the City of Gillette, Wyoming on September 3, 2014. Under the terms of the sale, Black Hills Wyoming entered into ancillary agreements to operate CTII, and provide use of shared facilities including a ground lease and dispatch generation services. In addition, the agreement includes a 20-year economy energy PPA that contains a sharing arrangement in which the parties share the savings of wholesale power purchases made when market power prices are less than the cost of operating the generating unit.



25



Operating and Maintenance Services Agreement

In conjunction with the sale of the noncontrolling interest on April 14, 2016, an operating and maintenance services agreement was entered into between Black Hills Electric Generation and Black Hills Colorado IPP.  This agreement sets forth the obligations and responsibilities of Black Hills Electric Generation as the operator of the generating facility owned by Black Hills Colorado IPP.    This agreement is in effect from the date of the noncontrolling interest purchase and remains effective as long as the operator or one of its affiliates is responsible for managing the generating facilities in accordance with the noncontrolling interest agreement, or until termination by owner or operator. 

Shared Services Agreements

South Dakota Electric, Wyoming Electric and Black Hills Wyoming are parties to a shared facilities agreement, whereby each entity charges for the use of assets by the affiliate entity.

Black Hills Colorado IPP and Colorado Electric are parties to a facility fee agreement, whereby Colorado Electric charges Black Hills Colorado IPP for the use of Colorado Electric assets.

Black Hills Colorado IPP, Wyoming Electric and South Dakota Electric are parties to a Spare Turbine Use Agreement, whereby Black Hills Colorado IPP charges South Dakota Electric and Wyoming Electric a monthly fee for the availability of a spare turbine to support the operation of Cheyenne Prairie Generating Station.

Black Hills Colorado IPP and Black Hills Wyoming receive certain staffing and management services from BHSC.

Jointly Owned Facilities

Black Hills Wyoming and MEAN are parties to a shared joint ownership agreement, whereby Black Hills Wyoming charges MEAN for administrative services, plant operations and maintenance on their share of the Wygen I generating facility over the life of the plant.

Competition. The independent power industry consists of many strong and capable competitors, some of which may have more extensive operations or greater financial resources than we possess.

With respect to the merchant power sector, FERC has taken steps to increase access to the national transmission grid by utility and non-utility purchasers and sellers of electricity and foster competition within the wholesale electricity markets. Our Power Generation business could face greater competition if utilities are permitted to robustly invest in power generation assets. Conversely, state regulatory rules requiring utilities to competitively bid generation resources may provide opportunity for independent power producers in some regions.

The Energy Policy Act of 1992. The passage of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 encouraged independent power production by providing certain exemptions from regulation for EWGs. EWGs are exclusively in the business of owning or operating, or both owning and operating, eligible power facilities and selling electric energy at wholesale. EWGs are subject to FERC regulation, including rate regulation. We own two EWGs: Wygen I and 200 MW (two 100 MW combined-cycle gas-fired units) at the Pueblo Airport Generating Station. Our EWGs were granted market-based rate authority, which allows FERC to waive certain accounting, record-keeping and reporting requirements imposed on public utilities with cost-based rates.



26


Mining Segment

Our Mining segment operates through our WRDC subsidiary. We surface mine, process and sell primarily low-sulfur sub-bituminous coal at our mine near Gillette, Wyoming. The WRDC coal mine, which we acquired in 1956 from Homestake Gold Mining Company, is located in the Powder River Basin. The Powder River Basin contains one of the largest coal reserves in the United States. We produced approximately 4.2 million tons of coal in 2017.

During our surface mining operations, we strip and store the topsoil. We then remove the overburden (earth and rock covering the coal) with heavy equipment. Removal of the overburden typically requires drilling and blasting. Once the coal is exposed, we drill, fracture and systematically remove it, using front-end loaders and conveyors to transport the coal to the mine-mouth generating facilities. We reclaim disturbed areas as part of our normal mining activities by back-filling the pit with overburden removed during the mining process. Once we have replaced the overburden and topsoil, we re-establish vegetation and plant life in accordance with our approved post-mining topography plan.

In a basin characterized by thick coal seams, our overburden ratio, a comparison of the cubic yards of dirt removed to a ton of coal uncovered, has in recent years trended upwards. The overburden ratio at December 31, 2017 was 2.16, which increased from the prior year as we continued mining in areas with higher overburden. We expect our stripping ratio to be approximately 2.15 by the end of 2018 as we mine in areas with comparable overburden.

Mining rights to the coal are based on four federal leases and one state lease. The federal leases expire between April 30, 2019 and September 30, 2025 and the state lease expires on August 1, 2023. The duration of the leases varies; however, the lease terms generally are extended to the exhaustion of economically recoverable reserves, as long as active mining continues. We pay federal and state royalties of 12.5% of the selling price of all coal. As of December 31, 2017, we estimated our recoverable coal reserves to be approximately 195 million tons, based on a life-of-mine engineering study utilizing currently available drilling data and geological information prepared by internal engineering studies. The recoverable coal reserve life is equal to approximately 47 years at the current production levels. Our recoverable coal reserve estimates are periodically updated to reflect past coal production and other geological and mining data. Changes in mining methods or the utilization of new technologies may increase or decrease the recovery basis for a coal seam. Our recoverable coal reserves include reserves that can be economically and legally extracted at the time of their determination. We use various assumptions in preparing our estimate of recoverable coal reserves. See Risk Factors under Mining for further details.

Substantially all of our coal production is currently sold under contracts to:

South Dakota Electric for use at the 90 MW Neil Simpson II plant. This contract is for the life of the plant;

Wyoming Electric for use at the 95 MW Wygen II plant. This contract is for the life of the plant;

The 362 MW Wyodak power plant owned 80% by PacifiCorp and 20% by South Dakota Electric. PacifiCorp is obligated to purchase a minimum of 1.5 million tons of coal each year of the contract term, subject to adjustments for planned outages. South Dakota Electric is also obligated to purchase a minimum of 0.375 million tons of coal per year for its 20% share of the power plant. This contract expires December 31, 2022;

The 110 MW Wygen III power plant owned 52% by South Dakota Electric, 25% by MDU and 23% by the City of Gillette to which we sell approximately 600,000 tons of coal each year. This contract expires June 1, 2060;

The 90 MW Wygen I power plant owned 76.5% by Black Hills Wyoming and 23.5% by MEAN to which we sell approximately 500,000 tons of coal each year. This contract expires June 30, 2038; and

Certain regional industrial customers served by truck to which we sell a total of approximately 150,000 tons of coal each year. These contracts have terms of one to five years.

Our Mining segment sells coal to South Dakota Electric and Wyoming Electric for all of their requirements under cost-based agreements that regulate earnings from these affiliate coal sales to a specified return on our coal mine’s cost-depreciated investment base. The return calculated annually is 400 basis points above A-rated utility bonds applied to our Mining investment base. South Dakota Electric made a commitment to the SDPUC, the WPSC and the City of Gillette that coal for South Dakota Electric’s operating plants would be furnished and priced as provided by that agreement for the life of the Neil Simpson II plant and through June 1, 2060, for Wygen III. The agreement with Wyoming Electric provides coal for the life of the Wygen II plant.


27


The price of unprocessed coal sold to PacifiCorp for the Wyodak plant is determined by the coal supply agreement described above. The agreement includes a price adjustment in 2019. The price adjustment essentially allows us to retain the full economic advantage of the mine’s location adjacent to the plant. The price adjustment is based on the market price of coal plus considerations for the avoided costs of rail transportation and a coal unloading facility, which PacifiCorp would have to incur if it purchased coal from another mine. In addition, the agreement also provides for the monthly escalation of coal price based on an escalation factor.

WRDC supplies coal to Black Hills Wyoming for the Wygen I generating facility for requirements under an agreement using a base price that includes price escalators and quality adjustments through June 30, 2038 and includes actual cost per ton plus a margin equal to the yield for Moody’s A-Rated 10-Year Corporate Bond Index plus 400 basis points with the base price being adjusted on a 5-year interval. The agreement stipulates that WRDC will supply coal to the 90 MW Wygen I plant through June 30, 2038.

Competition. Our primary strategy is to sell the majority of our coal production to on-site, mine-mouth generation facilities under long-term supply contracts. Historically, off-site sales have been to consumers within a close proximity to the mine. Rail transport market opportunities for WRDC coal are limited due to the lower heating value (Btu) of the coal, combined with the fact that the WRDC coal mine is served by only one railroad, resulting in less competitive transportation rates. Management continues to explore the limited market opportunities for our product through truck transport.

Additionally, coal competes with other energy sources, such as natural gas, wind, solar and hydropower. Costs and other factors relating to these alternative fuels, such as safety, environmental considerations and availability affect the overall demand for coal as a fuel.

Environmental Matters. We are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations providing for air, water and solid waste pollution control; state facility-siting regulations; zoning and planning regulations of certain state and local authorities; federal health and safety regulations; and state hazard communication standards. See Environmental Matters section for further information.

Mine Reclamation. Reclamation is required during production and after mining has been completed. Under applicable law, we must submit applications to, and receive approval from, the WDEQ for any mining and reclamation plan that provides for orderly mining, reclamation and restoration of the WRDC mine. We have approved mining permits and are in compliance with other permitting programs administered by various regulatory agencies. The WRDC coal mine is permitted to operate under a five-year mining permit issued by the State of Wyoming. In 2016, that five-year permit was re-issued. Based on extensive reclamation studies, we have accrued approximately $12 million for reclamation costs as of December 31, 2017. Mining regulatory requirements continue to increase, which impose additional cost on the mining process.


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Environmental Matters

At Black Hills, we deliver energy to our customers and communities guided by our commitment to environmental stewardship;  to sustain environmental compliance which results in healthier communities.

South Dakota and Wyoming Power Generation. Based on current regulations, technology and plans, the following table contains our current estimates of capital expenditures expected to be incurred over the next three years to comply with current environmental laws and regulations as described below, including regulations that cover water, air, soil and other pollutants, but excluding plant closures and the cost of new generation. The ultimate cost could be significantly different from the amounts estimated.

Environmental Expenditure Estimates
Total
(in thousands)
2018
$
3,086

2019
1,674

2020
611

Total
$
5,371


Methane Rules (Greenhouse Gas Emissions). The EPA and the State of Colorado have implemented strict regulatory requirements on fugitive methane emissions associated with oil and natural gas exploration and production operations and from natural gas gathering and transmission systems. Additionally, the BLM issued a new rule referred to as the Methane Rule (aka Venting and Flaring rule) with the intent to capture methane leaks and lost royalties from companies that operate on federal land.

The rule has been postponed for one year by the BLM, but continues to be legally contested. While this risk is substantially reduced through the divestiture of BHEP, it continues to impact our remaining natural gas gathering and transmission operations. It is anticipated that regulatory control in this area may continue to expand, affecting a larger portion of Black Hills’ natural gas operations, including storage and distribution. Presently, we have seven compressor stations in our natural gas transmission operations affected by the rule (one in Arkansas, three in Colorado, and three in Wyoming).

Our operations are currently in compliance with both EPA and BLM rules. Although the BLM rule has been postponed, non- compliance would expose us to both enforcement action and civil suits. We will continue to monitor the litigation until the BLM’s rule status is clarified through the resolution of legal challenges. Additionally, we are developing a corporate-wide methane control strategy to address GHG emissions from our natural gas operations.

Water Issues. Our facilities are subject to a variety of state and federal regulations governing existing and potential water/ wastewater discharges and protection of surface waters from oil pollution. Generally, such regulations are promulgated under the Clean Water Act and govern overall water/wastewater discharges through EPA’s surface water discharge and storm water permits. All of our facilities that are required to have such permits have those permits in place and are in compliance with discharge limitations and plan implementation requirements. The EPA proposed effluent limitation guidelines and standards on June 7, 2013 and published the final rule on November 3, 2015. This rule will have an impact on the Wyodak Plant. The terms of this new regulation impact the next permit renewal, which will be in 2020. Additionally, the EPA regulates surface water oil pollution through its oil pollution prevention regulations. All of our facilities subject to these regulations have compliant prevention plans in place.

Short-term Emission Limits. The EPA and State Air Quality Programs implemented short-term emission limits for coal and natural gas-fired generating units during normal and start-up operating scenarios for Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and Opacity. The limits pertain to emissions during start-up periods and upset conditions such as mechanical malfunctions. State and federal regulatory agencies typically excuse short-term emissions exceedances if they are reported and corrected immediately or if it occurs during start-up.

We proactively manage this requirement through maintenance efforts and installing additional pollution control systems to control SO2 emission short-term excursions during start-up. These actions have nearly eliminated our short-term emission limit compliance risk while plant availability remained above 90% for all four of our coal-fired plants at the Neil Simpson Complex. To eliminate the remaining potential for exceedances, an innovative trip logic mechanism was implemented to shut the power plant down if a predicted emission limit is to be exceeded. Similar efforts have been taken and similar results achieved with our natural gas fired combustion turbine sites as well.

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Regional Haze (Impacts to the Wyodak Power Plant). The EPA Regional Haze rule was promulgated to improve visibility in our National Parks and Wilderness Areas. The State of Wyoming proposed controls in its Regional Haze State Implementation Plan (SIP) which allowed Pacificorp to install low-NOx burners in its Wyodak Plant. The EPA did not agree with the State of Wyoming’s determination and overruled it in a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP). The State of Wyoming and other interested parties are challenging the EPA’s determination. If the challenge is unsuccessful, additional capital investment would be necessary to bring the Wyodak Plant into compliance. Our share of this capital investment would be approximately $40 million.

Mining. Operations at the WRDC mine must regularly address issues related to the proximity of the mine disturbance boundary to the City of Gillette, and to residential and industrial properties. Homeowner complaints and challenges to the permits may occur as mining operations move closer to residential areas. Specific concerns could include damage to wells, fugitive dust emissions, vibration and an emissions cloud from blasting.

Former Manufactured Gas Plants (FMGP). Federal and state laws authorize the EPA and other agencies to issue orders compelling potentially responsible parties to clean up sites that are determined to present an actual or potential threat to human health or the environment. Our gas utilities are managing FMGP sites in Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado. We are currently in discussions with EPA, state regulators, and/or other third-parties to determine the ultimate resolution to these sites.

Clean Power Plan. The EPA was directed to repeal, revise, and replace the Clean Power Plan rule. The EPA issued two public notices in the Federal Register late in 2017. The first identified the EPA’s intent to repeal the rule and the second was issued to seek public input on proposals to replace the CPP with an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM). Natural gas and renewable generation industries are pushing the EPA to replace the current rule. We will continue to monitor and comment on the proposals and take appropriate action related to any new or modified rules.

OSM Coal Combustion Residual Rule (CCR). The EPA issued the CCR that is currently effective and established requirements to protect surface and groundwater from impacts of coal ash impoundments. WRDC is exempt from the EPA CCR because coal ash is used for backfill reclamation in the areas previously mined. We would be subject to any proposed OSM CCR.

During the development of the OSM rule, it was anticipated that placing ash below groundwater levels would be disallowed. While our mining operations place ash below groundwater levels, the State of Wyoming gave us approval to grandfather this ash disposal in the Peerless Pit, with the Mine Plan Permit 232-T8, as a potential preventative measure to a new rule. As such, any risks associated with having to construct a new ash disposal site above groundwater and then complete backfilling the existing ash pit area to required reclamation levels are not applicable at this time.

Oil and Gas Segment Divestiture. Regulatory agencies placed a significant emphasis on regulating oil and gas activities over the past few years to address GHG and climate change concerns mainly due to the associated methane emissions. The regulatory activity significantly increased compliance risk. We will see relief in our compliance risk concerns with the divestiture of our oil and gas segment in 2018.

Environmental risk changes constantly with the implementation of new or modified regulations, changing stakeholder interests and needs, and through the introduction of innovative work practices and technologies. We assess risk annually and develop mitigation strategies to successfully and responsibly manage and ensure compliance across the enterprise. For additional information on environmental matters, see Item 1A and Note 19 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.


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Other Properties

In addition to the facilities previously disclosed in Items 1 and 2, we own or lease several facilities throughout our service territories. Our owned facilities are as follows:

In Rapid City, South Dakota, we have a new 220,000 square foot corporate headquarters building, Horizon Point, which was completed in the fourth quarter of 2017.

In Arkansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming we own various office, service center, storage, shop and warehouse space totaling over 717,000 square feet utilized by our Gas Utilities.

In South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Montana we own various office, service center, storage, shop and warehouse space totaling approximately 237,000 square feet utilized by our Electric Utilities and Mining segments.

In addition to our owned properties, we lease 270,925 square feet of properties within our service areas.

Substantially all of the tangible utility properties of South Dakota Electric and Wyoming Electric are subject to liens securing first mortgage bonds issued by South Dakota Electric and Wyoming Electric, respectively.

Employees

At December 31, 2017, we had 2,744 full-time employees in continuing operations. Approximately 27% of our employees are represented by a collective bargaining agreement. We have not experienced any labor stoppages in recent years. At December 31, 2017, approximately 24% of our Electric Utilities and Gas Utilities employees were eligible for regular or early retirement.

The following table sets forth the number of employees included in continuing operations:
 
Number of Employees
Corporate
484

Electric Utilities and Gas Utilities
2,199

Mining and Power Generation
61

Total
2,744


At December 31, 2017, certain employees of our Electric Utilities and Gas Utilities were covered by the following collective bargaining agreements:
Utility
Number of Employees
Union Affiliation
Expiration Date of Collective Bargaining Agreement
South Dakota Electric (a)
131

IBEW Local 1250
March 31, 2022
Wyoming Electric
42

IBEW Local 111
June 30, 2019
Colorado Electric
103

IBEW Local 667
April 15, 2018
Iowa Gas
115

IBEW Local 204
July 31, 2020
Kansas Gas (c)
17

Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO Local 6407
December 31, 2019
Nebraska Gas
99

IBEW Local 244
March 13, 2022
Nebraska Gas (b)
143

CWA Local 7476
October 30, 2019
Wyoming Gas (b)
86

CWA Local 7476
October 30, 2019
Total
736

 
 
__________
(a)
On January 26, 2017, South Dakota Electric’s contract was ratified with an expiration date of March 31, 2022.
(b)
In the 2016 negotiations with the CWA Local 7476, the union agreed to disclaim their interest in Colorado Gas employees and to split the remaining bargaining unit into two distinct bargaining units, Nebraska Gas and Wyoming Gas.
(c)
Kansas Gas completed a wage adjustment that was ratified on November 15, 2017.


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ITEM 1A.
RISK FACTORS

The nature of our business subjects us to a number of uncertainties and risks. The following risk factors and other risk factors that we discuss in our periodic reports filed with the SEC should be considered for a better understanding of our Company. These important factors and other matters discussed herein could cause our future actual results or outcomes to differ materially.

OPERATING RISKS

Our financial performance depends on the successful operation of our facilities. If the risks involved in our operations are not appropriately managed or mitigated, our operations may not be successful and this could adversely affect our results of operations.

Operating electric generating facilities, the coal mine and electric and natural gas distribution systems involves risks, including:

Disrupted transmission and distribution. We depend on transmission and distribution facilities, including those operated by unaffiliated parties, to deliver the electricity and gas that we sell to our retail and wholesale customers. If transmission is interrupted, our ability to sell or deliver product and satisfy our contractual obligations may be hindered;

Interruptions to supply of fuel and other commodities used in generation and distribution. Our utilities purchase fuel from a number of suppliers. Our results of operations could be negatively impacted by disruptions in the delivery of fuel due to various factors, including but not limited to, transportation delays, labor relations, weather and environmental regulations, which could limit our utilities’ ability to operate their facilities;

Electricity is dangerous for employees and the general public should they come in contact with power lines or electrical service facilities and equipment. Natural conditions and other disasters such as wind, lightning and winter storms can cause wildfires, pole failures and associated property damage and outages;

Operating hazards such as leaks, mechanical problems and accidents, including explosions, affecting our natural gas distribution system which could impact public safety, reliability and customer confidence;

Operational limitations imposed by environmental and other regulatory requirements;

Breakdown or failure of equipment or processes, including those operated by PacifiCorp at the Wyodak Plant;

Labor relations. Approximately 27% of our employees are represented by a total of eight collective bargaining agreements;

Our ability to transition and replace our retirement-eligible utility employees. At December 31, 2017, approximately 24% of our Electric Utilities and Gas Utilities employees were eligible for regular or early retirement;

Inability to recruit and retain skilled technical labor; and

Disruption in the functioning of our information technology and network infrastructure which are vulnerable to disability, failures and unauthorized access. If our information technology systems were to fail and we were unable to recover in a timely manner, we would be unable to fulfill critical business functions.

Changes in the interpretation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) could adversely affect us.

On December 22, 2017, the TCJA was signed into law, significantly reforming the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. The TCJA, among other things, includes a decrease in the U.S. federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, imposes significant additional limitations on the deductibility of interest, allows for the expensing of capital expenditures, and modifies or repeals many business deductions and credits. The new tax law contains several provisions that impacted our 2017 financial results and will impact the Company into the future. As allowed under SEC Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 118 (SAB 118), the Company has recorded provisional income tax amounts as of December 31, 2017 for changes pursuant to the TCJA related to depreciation, for which the impacts could not be finalized upon issuance of the Company’s financial statements but reasonable estimates could be determined.


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In accordance with ASC 740, the enactment of the law on December 22, 2017 required revaluation of federal deferred tax assets and liabilities using the new lower corporate statutory tax rate of 21%. As a result of the revaluation, deferred tax assets and liabilities were reduced by approximately $309 million. Of the $309 million, approximately $301 million is related to our regulated utilities and is reclassified to a regulatory liability. This regulatory liability will generally be amortized over the remaining life of the related assets using the normalization principles as specifically prescribed in the TCJA. On a consolidated financial statement basis, the revaluation of deferred tax assets and liabilities to the 21% federal corporate tax rate that are not subject to the regulatory construct resulted in a one-time, non-cash, income tax benefit of approximately $8 million in 2017.

The TCJA includes provisions limiting interest deductibility in certain circumstances. While we expect to maintain deductibility of interest expense, the lower tax rate reduces the tax benefits associated with interest deductibility on holding company debt that is not recovered in the regulatory construct.

We are working with utility regulators in each of the states we serve to provide benefits of tax reform to our customers. We expect an increase in working capital requirements as a result of complying with the TCJA and the impact of providing TCJA benefits to customers. The lower tax rate effective January 1, 2018, will negatively impact the Company’s cash flows by approximately $35 million to $45 million annually for the next several years.

If we are unable to obtain reasonable outcomes with our utility regulators in passing benefits of the TCJA back to customers, or if our interpretations on the provisions of depreciation or interest deductibility in the TCJA change, our results of operations, financial position and cash flows could be materially impacted.
 
Construction, expansion, refurbishment and operation of power generating and transmission and resource extraction facilities involve significant risks which could reduce profitability.

The construction, expansion, refurbishment and operation of power generating and transmission and resource extraction facilities involve many risks, including:

The inability to obtain required governmental permits and approvals along with the cost of complying with or satisfying conditions imposed upon such approvals;

Contractual restrictions upon the timing of scheduled outages;

The cost of supplying or securing replacement power during scheduled and unscheduled outages;

The unavailability or increased cost of equipment;

The cost of recruiting and retaining or the unavailability of skilled labor;

Supply interruptions, work stoppages and labor disputes;

Increased capital and operating costs to comply with increasingly stringent environmental laws and regulations;

Opposition by members of public or special-interest groups;

Weather interferences;

Availability and cost of fuel supplies;

Unexpected engineering, environmental and geological problems; and

Unanticipated cost overruns.

The ongoing operation of our facilities involves many of the risks described above, in addition to risks relating to the breakdown or failure of equipment or processes and performance below expected levels of output or efficiency. New plants may employ recently developed and technologically complex equipment, including newer environmental emission control technology. Any of these risks could cause us to operate below expected capacity levels, which in turn could reduce revenues, increase expenses or cause us to incur higher operating and maintenance costs and penalties. While we maintain insurance, obtain warranties from vendors and obligate contractors to meet certain performance levels, the proceeds of such insurance and

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our rights under warranties or performance guarantees may not be timely or adequate to cover lost revenues, increased expenses, liability or liquidated damage payments.

Operating results can be adversely affected by variations from normal weather conditions.

Our utility businesses are seasonal businesses and weather patterns can have a material impact on our operating performance. Demand for electricity is typically greater in the summer and winter months associated with cooling and heating. Demand for natural gas depends heavily upon winter-weather patterns throughout our service territory and a significant amount of natural gas revenues are recognized in the first and fourth quarters related to the heating season. Accordingly, our utility operations have historically generated lower revenues and income when weather conditions are cooler than normal in the summer and warmer than normal in the winter. Demand for natural gas is also impacted by summer weather patterns that are cooler than normal and provide higher than normal precipitation; both of which can reduce natural gas demand for irrigation. Unusually mild summers and winters therefore could have an adverse effect on our results of operations, financial position and cash flows.

Our businesses are located in areas that could be subject to seasonal natural disasters such as severe snow and ice storms, flooding and wildfires. These events could result in interruption of our business, damage to our property such as power lines and substations, and repair and clean-up costs. We may not be able to recover the costs incurred in restoring transmission and distribution property following these natural disasters through a change in our regulated rates thereby resulting in a negative impact on our results of operations, financial position and cash flows.

Our Mining operations are subject to operating risks that are beyond our control which could affect our profitability and production levels. Our surface mining operations could be disrupted or materially affected due to adverse weather or natural disasters such as heavy snow, strong winds, rain or flooding.

Prices for some of our products and services as well as a portion of our operating costs are volatile and may cause our revenues and expenses to fluctuate significantly.

A portion of our net income is attributable to sales of contract and off-system wholesale electricity and natural gas. Energy prices are influenced by many factors outside our control, including, among other things, fuel prices, transmission constraints, supply and demand, weather, general economic conditions, and the rules, regulations and actions of system operators in those markets. Moreover, unlike most other commodities, electricity cannot be stored and therefore must be produced concurrently with its use. As a result, wholesale power markets may be subject to significant, unpredictable price fluctuations over relatively short periods of time.

Our Mining operations require reliable supplies of replacement parts, explosives, fuel, tires and steel-related products. If the cost of these increase significantly, or if sources of supplies and mining equipment become unavailable to meet our replacement demands, our productivity and profitability could be lower than our current expectations.

Our revenues, results of operations and financial condition are impacted by customer growth and usage in our service territories and may fluctuate with current economic conditions, emerging technologies or responses to price increases.

Our revenues, results of operations and financial condition are impacted by demand in our service territories. Customer growth and usage may be impacted by a number of factors, including the voluntary reduction of consumption of electricity and natural gas by our customers in response to increases in prices and demand-side management programs, economic conditions impacting decreases in customers’ disposable income and the use of distributed generation resources or other emerging technologies. Continued technological improvements may make customer and third-party distributed generation and energy storage systems, including fuel cells, micro-turbines, wind turbines, solar cells and batteries, more cost effective and feasible for our customers. If more customers utilize their own generation, demand for energy from us would decline. Such developments could affect the price of energy and delivery of energy, require further improvements to our distribution systems to address changing load demands and could make portions of our electric system power supply and transmission and/or distribution facilities obsolete prior to the end of their useful lives.  Each of these factors could materially affect our results of operations, financial position and cash flows.

Our operations rely on storage and transportation assets owned by third parties to satisfy our obligations.

Our Electric Utilities, Gas Utilities and Power Generation segments rely on pipeline companies and other owners of gas storage facilities to deliver natural gas to customers, to supply our natural gas-fired power plants and to hedge commodity costs. If storage capacity is inadequate or transportation is disrupted, our ability to satisfy our obligations may be hindered. As a result,

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we may be responsible for damages incurred by our counterparties, such as the additional cost of acquiring alternative supply at then-current market rates, or for penalties imposed by state regulatory authorities.

Our utilities are subject to pipeline safety and system integrity laws and regulations that may require significant capital expenditures or significant increases in operating costs.

Compliance with pipeline safety and system integrity laws and regulations, or future changes in these laws and regulations, may result in increased capital, operating and other costs which may not be recoverable in a timely manner from customers in rates. Failure to comply may result in fines, penalties, or injunctive measures that would not be recoverable from customers in rates and could result in a material impact on our results of operations, financial position and cash flows.

Our energy production, transmission and distribution activities, and our storage facilities for our natural gas involve numerous risks that may result in accidents and other catastrophic events that could give rise to additional costs and cause a substantial loss to us.

Inherent in our natural gas and electricity transmission and distribution activities, as well as in our transportation and storage of natural gas and our Mining operations, are a variety of hazards and operating risks, such as leaks, blowouts, fires, releases of hazardous materials, explosions and operational problems. These events could impact the safety of employees or others and result in injury or loss of human life, and cause significant damage to property or natural resources (including public lands), environmental pollution, impairment of our operations and substantial financial losses to us. Particularly for our transmission and distribution lines located near populated areas, including residential areas, commercial business centers, industrial sites and other public gathering areas, the damages resulting from any such events could be substantial. While we maintain liability and property insurance coverage, such policies are subject to certain limits and deductibles. The occurrence of any of these events not fully covered by our insurance could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

Threats of terrorism and catastrophic events that could result from terrorism, or individuals and/or groups attempting to disrupt our businesses, or the businesses of third parties, may impact our operations in unpredictable ways.

Terrorist acts or other similar events could harm our businesses by limiting their ability to generate, purchase or transmit power and by delaying their development and construction of new generating facilities and capital improvements to existing facilities. These events, and governmental actions in response, could result in a material decrease in revenues and significant additional costs to repair and insure our assets and could adversely affect our operations by contributing to disruption of supplies and markets for natural gas, oil and other fuels. They could also impair our ability to raise capital by contributing to financial instability and lower economic activity.

The implementation of security guidelines and measures and maintenance of insurance, to the extent available, addressing such activities could increase costs. These types of events could materially adversely affect our financial results. In addition, these types of events could require significant management attention and resources and could adversely affect our reputation among customers and the public.

A cyber attack may disrupt our operations, or lead to a loss or misuse of confidential and proprietary information and create a potential liability.

We use and operate sophisticated information technology systems and network infrastructure. In addition, in the ordinary course of business, we collect and retain sensitive information including personal information about our customers and employees. Cyber attacks targeting our electronic control systems used at our generating facilities and for electric and gas distribution systems, could result in a full or partial disruption of our electric and/or gas operations. Cyber attacks targeting other key information technology systems could further add to a full or partial disruption of our operations. Any disruption of these operations could result in a loss of service to customers and a significant decrease in revenues, as well as significant expense to repair system damage and remedy security breaches. Any theft, loss and/or fraudulent use of customer, shareowner, employee or proprietary data as a result of a cyber attack could subject us to significant litigation, liability and costs, as well as adversely impact our reputation with customers and regulators, among others.

We have instituted security measures and safeguards to protect our operational systems and information technology assets, including certain safeguards required by FERC. The security measures and safeguards we have implemented may not always be effective due to the evolving nature and sophistication of cyber attacks. Despite our implementation of security measures and safeguards, all of our information technology systems are vulnerable to disability, failures or unauthorized access, including cyber attacks. If our information technology systems were to fail or be breached by a cyber attack or a computer

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virus and be unable to recover in a timely way, we would be unable to fulfill critical business functions and sensitive confidential and other data could be compromised which could have a material adverse effect not only on our financial results, but on our public reputation as well.

Increased risks of regulatory penalties could negatively impact our results of operations, financial position or liquidity.

Business activities in the energy sector are heavily regulated, primarily by agencies of the federal government. Agencies that historically sought voluntary compliance, or issued non-monetary sanctions, now employ mandatory civil penalty structures for regulatory violations. The FERC, NERC, CFTC, EPA, OSHA, SEC and MSHA may impose significant civil and criminal penalties to enforce compliance requirements relative to our business, which could have a material adverse effect on our operations and/or our financial results.

Certain Federal laws, including the Migratory Bird Act and the Endangered Species Act, provide special protection to certain designated species. These laws and any state equivalents provide for significant civil and criminal penalties for non-permitted activities that result in harm to or harassment of certain protected animals, including damage to their habitats. If such species are located in an area in which we conduct operations, or if additional species in those areas become subject to protection, our operations and development projects, particularly transmission, generation, wind and pipeline projects, could be restricted or delayed, or we could be required to implement expensive mitigation measures.

Our current or future development and expansion activities may not be successful, which could impair our ability to execute our growth strategy.

Execution of our growth plan is dependent on successful ongoing and future development and expansion activities. We can provide no assurance that we will be able to complete development projects or expansion activities we undertake or continue to develop attractive opportunities for growth. Factors that could cause our development and expansion activities to be unsuccessful include:

Our inability to obtain required governmental permits;

Our inability to secure adequate utility rates through regulatory proceedings;

Our inability to obtain financing on acceptable terms, or at all;

The possibility that one or more credit rating agencies would downgrade our issuer credit rating to below investment grade, thus increasing our cost of doing business;

Our inability to attract and retain management or other key personnel;

Our inability to negotiate acceptable construction, fuel supply, power sales or other material agreements;

Reduced growth in the demand for utility services in the markets we serve;

Changes in federal, state, local or tribal laws and regulations, particularly those which would make it more difficult or costly to fully develop our coal reserves or our power generation capacity;

Fuel prices or fuel supply constraints;

Pipeline capacity and transmission constraints;

Competition within our industry and with producers of competing energy sources; and

Changes in tax rates and policies.

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Utilities

Regulatory commissions may refuse to approve some or all of the utility rate increases we have requested or may request in the future, or may determine that amounts passed through to customers were not prudently incurred and therefore are not recoverable.

Our regulated Electric Utilities and Gas Utilities are subject to cost-of-service regulation and earnings oversight from federal and state utility commissions. This regulatory treatment does not provide any assurance as to achievement of desired earnings levels. Our retail electric and gas utility rates are regulated on a state-by-state basis by the relevant state regulatory authorities based on an analysis of our costs, as reviewed and approved in a regulatory proceeding. The rates that we are allowed to charge may or may not match our related costs and allowed return on invested capital at any given time. While rate regulation is premised on the full recovery of prudently incurred costs and a reasonable rate of return on invested capital, there can be no assurance that the state public utility commissions will judge all of our costs, including our direct and allocated borrowing and debt service costs, to have been prudently incurred or that the regulatory process in which rates are determined will always result in rates that produce a full recovery of our costs and the return on invested capital allowed by the applicable state public utility commission.

To some degree, each of our Electric and Gas Utilities are permitted to recover certain costs (such as increased fuel and purchased power costs) without having to file a rate case. To the extent we are able to pass through such costs to our customers and a state public utility commission subsequently determines that such costs should not have been paid by the customers; we may be required to refund such costs. Any such costs not recovered through rates, or any such refund, could adversely affect our results of operations, financial position or cash flows.

If market or other conditions adversely affect operations or require us to make changes to our business strategy in any of our utility businesses, we may be forced to record a non-cash goodwill impairment charge. Any significant impairment of our goodwill related to these utilities would cause a decrease in our assets and a reduction in our net income and shareholders’ equity.

We had approximately $1.3 billion of goodwill on our consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2017. A substantial portion of the goodwill is related to the SourceGas Acquisition and the Aquila Transaction. If we make changes in our business strategy or if market or other conditions adversely affect operations in any of our businesses, we may be forced to record a non-cash impairment charge, which would reduce our reported assets, net income and shareholders’ equity. Goodwill is tested for impairment annually or whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate impairment may have occurred. If the testing performed indicates that impairment has occurred, we are required to record an impairment charge for the difference between the carrying value of the goodwill and the implied fair value of the goodwill in the period the determination is made. The testing of goodwill for impairment requires us to make significant estimates about our future performance and cash flows, as well as other assumptions. These estimates can be affected by numerous factors, including: future business operating performance, changes in economic conditions and interest rates, regulatory, industry or market conditions, changes in business operations, changes in competition or changes in technologies. Any changes in key assumptions, or actual performance compared with key assumptions, about our business and its future prospects could affect the fair value of one or more business segments, which may result in an impairment charge.

Municipal governments may seek to limit or deny franchise privileges which could inhibit our ability to secure adequate recovery of our investment in assets subject to condemnation.

Municipal governments within our utility service territories possess the power of condemnation and could establish a municipal utility within a portion of our current service territories by limiting or denying franchise privileges for our operations and exercising powers of condemnation over all or part of our utility assets within municipal boundaries. Although condemnation is a process that is subject to constitutional protections requiring just and fair compensation, as with any judicial procedure, the outcome is uncertain. If a municipality sought to pursue this course of action, we cannot assure that we would secure adequate recovery of our investment in assets subject to condemnation.

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Mining

If the assumptions underlying our reclamation and mine closure obligations are materially inaccurate, our costs could be significantly greater than anticipated or be incurred sooner than anticipated.

We conduct surface mining operations that are subject to operations, reclamation and closure standards. We estimate our total reclamation liabilities based on permit requirements, engineering studies and our engineering expertise related to these requirements. The estimate of ultimate reclamation liability is reviewed periodically by our management and engineers and by government regulators. The estimated liability can change significantly if actual costs vary from our original assumptions or if government regulations change significantly. GAAP requires that asset retirement obligations be recorded as a liability based on fair value, which reflects the present value of the estimated future cash flows. In estimating future cash flows, we consider the estimated current cost of reclamation and apply inflation rates. The resulting estimated reclamation obligations could change significantly if actual amounts or the timing of these expenses change significantly from our assumptions, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial position.

Estimates of the quality and quantity of our coal reserves may change materially due to numerous uncertainties inherent in three-dimensional structural modeling, and any inaccuracies in interpretation or modeling could materially affect the estimated quantity and quality of our reserves.

The process of estimating coal reserves is uncertain and requires interpretations and modeling. Significant inaccuracies in interpretation or modeling could materially affect the quantity and quality of our reserve estimates. The accuracy of reserve estimates is a function of engineering and geological interpretation, conditions encountered during actual reserve recovery and undetected deposit anomalies. Variance from the assumptions used and drill hole modeling density could result in additions or deletions from our volume estimates. In addition, future environmental, economic or geologic changes may occur or become known that require reserve revisions either upward or downward from prior reserve estimates.

FINANCING RISKS

Our credit ratings could be lowered below investment grade in the future. If this were to occur, it could impact our access to capital, cost of capital and other operating costs.

Our issuer credit rating is Baa2 (Stable outlook) by Moody’s; BBB (Stable outlook) by S&P; and BBB+ (Stable outlook) by Fitch. Reduction of our credit ratings could impair our ability to refinance or repay our existing debt and to complete new financings on reasonable terms, or at all. A credit rating downgrade, particularly to a sub-investment grade, could also result in counterparties requiring us to post additional collateral under existing or new contracts or trades. In addition, a ratings downgrade would increase our interest expense under some of our existing debt obligations, including borrowings under our credit facilities.

Derivatives regulations could impede our ability to manage business and financial risks by restricting our use of derivative instruments as hedges against fluctuating commodity prices and interest rates.

Dodd-Frank contains significant derivatives regulations, including a requirement that certain transactions be cleared resulting in a requirement to post cash collateral (commonly referred to as “margin”) for such transactions. Dodd-Frank provides for a potential exception from these clearing and cash collateral requirements for commercial end-users such as utilities and it includes a number of defined terms that will be used in determining how this exception applies to particular derivative transactions and the parties to those transactions.

We use natural gas derivative instruments for our hedging activities for our Gas and Electric Utilities’ operations. We may also use interest rate derivative instruments to minimize the impact of interest rate fluctuations. As a result of Dodd-Frank regulations promulgated by the CFTC, we may be required to post collateral to clearing entities for certain swap transactions we enter into. In addition our exchange-traded futures contracts are subject to futures margin posting requirements, which could have a significant impact on our business by reducing our ability to execute derivative transactions to reduce commodity price and interest rate uncertainty and to protect cash flows. Requirements to post collateral may cause significant liquidity issues by reducing our ability to use cash for investment or other corporate purposes, or may require us to increase our level of debt. In addition, a requirement for our counterparties to post collateral could result in additional costs being passed on to us, thereby decreasing our profitability.



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Our hedging activities that are designed to protect against commodity price and financial market risks may cause fluctuations in reported financial results due to accounting requirements associated with such activities.

We use various financial contracts and derivatives, including futures, forwards, options and swaps to manage commodity price and financial market risks. The timing of the recognition of gains or losses on these economic hedges in accordance with GAAP does not always match up with the gains or losses on the commodities or assets being hedged. The difference in accounting can result in volatility in reported results, even though the expected profit margin may be essentially unchanged from the dates the transactions were consummated.

Our use of derivative financial instruments could result in material financial losses.

From time to time, we have sought to limit a portion of the potential adverse effects resulting from changes in commodity prices and interest rates by using derivative financial instruments and other hedging mechanisms. To the extent that we hedge our commodity price and interest rate exposures, we forgo the benefits we would otherwise experience if commodity prices or interest rates were to change in our favor. In addition, even though they are closely monitored by management, our hedging activities can result in losses. Such losses could occur under various circumstances, including if a counterparty does not perform its obligations under the hedge arrangement, the hedge is economically imperfect, commodity prices or interest rates move unfavorably related to our physical or financial positions, or hedging policies and procedures are not followed.

Market performance or changes in other assumptions could require us to make significant unplanned contributions to our pension plans and other postretirement benefit plans. Increasing costs associated with our defined benefit retirement plans may adversely affect our results of operations, financial position or liquidity.

As discussed in Note 18 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we have one defined benefit pension plan (the pension plan is closed to new employees and frozen for certain employees who did not meet age and service based criteria) and several defined post-retirement healthcare plans and non-qualified retirement plans that cover certain eligible employees. Assumptions related to future costs, return on investments, interest rates and other actuarial assumptions have a significant impact on our funding requirements and the expense recognized related to these plans. These estimates and assumptions may change based on actual return on plan assets, changes in interest rates and any changes in governmental regulations.

We have a holding company corporate structure with multiple subsidiaries. Corporate dividends and debt payments are dependent upon cash distributions to the holding company from the subsidiaries.

As a holding company, our investments in our subsidiaries are our primary assets. Our operating cash flow and ability to service our indebtedness depend on the operating cash flow of our subsidiaries and the payment of funds by them to us in the form of dividends or advances. Our subsidiaries are separate legal entities that have no obligation to make any funds available for that purpose, whether by dividends or otherwise. In addition, each subsidiary’s ability to pay dividends to us depends on any applicable contractual or regulatory restrictions that may include requirements to maintain minimum levels of cash, working capital, equity or debt service funds.

There is no assurance as to the amount, if any, of future dividends because they depend on our future earnings, capital requirements and financial condition and are subject to declaration by the Board of Directors. Our operating subsidiaries have certain restrictions on their ability to transfer funds in the form of dividends or loans to us. See “Liquidity and Capital Resources” within Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further information regarding these restrictions and their impact on our liquidity.

We may be unable to obtain financing on reasonable terms needed to refinance debt, fund planned capital expenditures or otherwise execute our operating strategy.

Our ability to execute our operating strategy is highly dependent upon our access to capital. Historically, we have addressed our liquidity needs (including funds required to make scheduled principal and interest payments, refinance debt and fund working capital and planned capital expenditures) with operating cash flow, borrowings under credit facilities, proceeds of debt and equity offerings, and proceeds from asset sales. Our ability to access the capital markets and the costs and terms of available financing depend on many factors, including changes in our credit ratings, changes in the federal or state regulatory environment affecting energy companies, volatility in commodity or electricity prices, and general economic and market conditions.


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In addition, because we are a holding company and our utility assets are owned by our subsidiaries, if we are unable to adequately access the credit markets, we could be required to take additional measures designed to ensure that our utility subsidiaries are adequately capitalized to provide safe and reliable service. Possible additional measures would be evaluated in the context of then-prevailing market conditions, prudent financial management and any applicable regulatory requirements.

National and regional economic conditions may cause increased counterparty credit risk, late payments and uncollectible accounts, which could adversely affect our results of operations, financial position and liquidity.

A future recession may lead to an increase in late payments from retail, commercial and industrial utility customers, as well as from our non-utility customers. If late payments and uncollectible accounts increase, earnings and cash flows from our continuing operations may be reduced.

Our ability to obtain insurance and the terms of any available insurance coverage could be adversely affected by international, national, state or local events and company-specific events, as well as the financial condition of insurers. Our insurance coverage may not provide protection against all significant losses.

Our ability to obtain insurance, as well as the cost of such insurance, could be impacted by developments affecting insurance businesses, international, national, state or local events, as well as the financial condition of insurers. Insurance coverage may not continue to be available at all, or at rates or on terms similar to those presently available to us. A loss for which we are not fully insured could materially and adversely affect our financial results. Our insurance may not be sufficient or effective under all circumstances and against all hazards or liabilities to which the Company may be subject, including but not limited to environmental hazards, fire-related liability from natural events or inadequate facility maintenance, distribution property losses, cyber-security risks and dangers that exist in the gathering and transportation of gas in pipelines.

Increasing costs associated with our health care plans and other benefits may adversely affect our results of operations, financial position or liquidity.

The costs of providing health care benefits to our employees and retirees have increased substantially in recent years. We believe that our employee benefit costs, including costs related to health care plans for our employees and former employees, will continue to rise. Significant regulatory developments have, and likely will continue to, require changes to our current employee benefit plans and in our administrative and accounting processes, as well as changes to the cost of our plans, and the increasing costs and funding requirements associated with our health care plans may adversely affect our results of operations, financial position or liquidity.

Our electric and gas utility rates are regulated on a state-by-state basis by the relevant state regulatory authorities based on an analysis of our costs, as reviewed and approved in a regulatory proceeding. Within our utility rates we have generally recovered the cost of providing employee benefits. As benefit costs continue to rise, there can be no assurance that the state public utility commissions will allow recovery.

An effective system of internal control may not be maintained, leading to material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting.

Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires management to make an assessment of the design and effectiveness of internal controls. Our independent registered public accounting firm is required to attest to the effectiveness of these controls. During their assessment of these controls, management or our independent registered public accounting firm may identify areas of weakness in control design or effectiveness, which may lead to the conclusion that a material weakness in internal control exists. Any control deficiencies we identify in the future could adversely affect our ability to report our financial results on a timely and accurate basis, which could result in a loss of investor confidence in our financial reports or have a material adverse effect on our ability to operate our business or access sources of liquidity.

A control system, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the control system’s objectives will be met. If we are unable to assert that our internal controls over financial reporting are effective, market perception of our business, operating results and stock price could be adversely affected.

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ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS

Federal and state laws concerning GHG regulations and air emissions may materially increase our generation and production costs and could render some of our generating units uneconomical to operate and maintain.

We own and operate regulated and non-regulated fossil-fuel generating plants in South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado. Developments under federal and state laws and regulations governing air emissions from fossil-fuel generating plants may result in more stringent emission limitations, which could have a material impact on our costs of operations. Various pending or final state and EPA regulations that will impact our facilities are also discussed in Item 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K under the section “Environmental Matters.”

Due to uncertainty as to the final outcome of federal climate change legislation, legal challenges, state clean power plan developments or regulatory changes under the Clean Air Act, we cannot definitively estimate the effect of GHG legislation or regulation on our results of operations, cash flows or financial position.

New or more stringent regulations or other energy efficiency requirements could require us to incur significant additional costs relating to, among other things, the installation of additional emission control equipment, the acceleration of capital expenditures, the purchase of additional emissions allowances or offsets, the acquisition or development of additional energy supply from renewable resources, the closure or reduction of load of coal-fired power generation facilities and potential increased load of our combined cycle natural gas-fired generation units. To the extent our regulated fossil-fuel generating plants are included in rate base we will attempt to recover costs associated with complying with emission standards or other requirements. We will also attempt to recover the emission compliance costs of our non-regulated fossil-fuel generating plants from utility and other purchasers of the power generated by those non-regulated power plants. Any unrecovered costs could have a material impact on our results of operations and financial condition. In addition, future changes in environmental regulations governing air emissions could render some of our power generating units more expensive or uneconomical to operate and maintain.

The costs to achieve or maintain compliance with existing or future governmental laws, regulations or requirements, and any failure to do so, could adversely affect our results of operations, financial position or liquidity.

Our business segments are subject to numerous environmental laws and regulations affecting many aspects of present and future operations, including air emissions, water quality, wastewater discharges, solid waste and hazardous waste. These laws and regulations may result in increased capital, operating and other costs. These laws and regulations generally require the business segments to obtain and comply with a wide variety of environmental licenses, permits, inspections and other approvals. Compliance with environmental laws and regulations may require significant expenditures, including expenditures for cleanup costs and damages arising from contaminated properties. Failure to comply with environmental regulations may result in the imposition of fines, penalties and injunctive measures affecting operating assets.

The business segments may not be successful in recovering capital and operating costs incurred to comply with new environmental regulations through existing regulatory rate structures and contracts with customers. More stringent environmental laws or regulations could result in additional costs of operation for existing facilities or impede the development of new facilities. Although it is not expected that the costs to comply with current environmental regulations will have a material adverse effect on the business segments’ financial position, results of operations or cash flows, future environmental compliance costs could have a significant negative impact..

The characteristics of coal may make it difficult for coal users to comply with various environmental standards related to coal combustion or utilization and the use of alternative energy sources for power generation as mandated by states could reduce coal consumption.

Future regulations may require further reductions in emissions of mercury, hazardous pollutants, SO2, NOx, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and GHG, which are released into the air when coal is burned. These requirements could require the installation of costly emission control technology or the implementation of other measures. Reductions in mercury emissions required by EPA’s MATS rule, will likely require some power plants to install new equipment, at substantial cost, or discourage the use of certain coals containing higher levels of mercury.

Coal competes with other energy sources, such as natural gas, wind, solar and hydropower. The EPA was directed to repeal, revise and replace the CPP rule. At this time, it is not known what effect this will have on coal as a domestic energy source, and could have a significant impact on our mining operations.

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Existing or proposed legislation focusing on emissions enacted by the United States or individual states could make coal a less attractive fuel alternative for our customers and could impose a tax or fee on the producer of the coal. If our customers decrease the volume of coal they purchase from us or switch to alternative fuels as a result of existing or future environmental regulations aimed at reducing emissions, our operations and financial results could be adversely impacted.

Oil and Gas (Discontinued Operations)
If the risks involved in our Oil and Gas operations are not appropriately managed or mitigated through final sale dates, or if the divestiture of this business segment does not occur as currently anticipated, we could incur costs and/or additional write-downs of the carrying value of our natural gas and oil properties.
As of February 23, 2018, we have either closed transactions or signed contracts to sell more than 90 percent of our oil and gas properties. We expect to conclude the sale of all of our remaining oil and gas assets by mid-year 2018. Until the sale transactions are final, we continue to own and operate these assets and are exposed to the risks associated with those operations. In addition, while we have signed agreements for the significant majority of the properties, until the sales are closed, there is a risk that the transactions do not occur as planned. Additional operating costs, additional write-down of carrying value or the non-closure of sale agreements as currently signed could result in an adverse impact to our financial results.

ITEM 1B.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

ITEM 3.
LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

Information regarding our legal proceedings is incorporated herein by reference to the “Legal Proceedings” sub-caption within Item 8, Note 19, “Commitments and Contingencies”, of our Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

ITEM 4.    MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Information concerning mine safety violations or other regulatory matters required by Sections 1503(a) of Dodd-Frank is included in Exhibit 95 of this Annual Report.


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PART II

ITEM 5.
MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Our common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BKH. As of December 31, 2017, we had 3,732 common shareholders of record and approximately 25,000 beneficial owners, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 7 foreign countries.

We have paid a regular quarterly cash dividend each year since the incorporation of our predecessor company in 1941 and expect to continue paying a regular quarterly dividend for the foreseeable future. At its January 31, 2018 meeting, our Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.475 per share, equivalent to an annual dividend of $1.90 per share. The 2018 equivalent rate of $1.90 per share would mark 2018 as the 48th consecutive annual dividend increase for the Company.

For additional discussion of our dividend policy and factors that may limit our ability to pay dividends, see “Liquidity and Capital Resources” under Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Quarterly dividends paid and the high and low prices for our common stock, as reported in the New York Stock Exchange Composite Transactions, for the last two years were as follows:

Year ended December 31, 2017
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Dividends paid per share
$
0.445

$
0.445

$
0.445

$
0.475

Common stock prices



 
High
$
67.02

$
72.02

$
71.01

$
69.79

Low
$
60.02

$
65.37

$
67.08

$
57.01


Year ended December 31, 2016
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Dividends paid per share
$
0.420

$
0.420

$
0.420

$
0.420

Common stock prices
 
 
 
 
High
$
61.13

$
63.53

$
64.58

$
62.83

Low
$
44.65

$
56.16

$
56.86

$
54.76


UNREGISTERED SECURITIES ISSUED

There were no unregistered securities sold during 2017.

ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
There were no equity securities acquired for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017.


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ITEM 6.
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

(Minor differences may result due to rounding)
Years Ended December 31,
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014