Effective from June 20, 2011, the Corporation's asset associated with its expropriated investment in Belize Electricity does not qualify for hedge accounting as Belize Electricity is no longer a foreign subsidiary of Fortis (Note 20). As a result, foreign exchange gains and losses on the translation of the long-term other asset associated with Belize Electricity are recognized in earnings. The Corporation recognized in earnings a foreign exchange gain of approximately $2 million during the three months ended March 31, 2013 ($1.5 million foreign exchange loss for the three months ended March 31, 2012) (Note 8).
Interest Rate Risk
The Corporation and most of its subsidiaries are exposed to interest rate risk associated with credit facility borrowings. The Corporation and its subsidiaries may enter into interest rate swap agreements to help reduce this risk.
Commodity Price Risk
The FortisBC Energy companies are exposed to commodity price risk associated with changes in the market price of natural gas and Caribbean Utilities is exposed to commodity price risk associated with changes in the market price for fuel (Notes 16 and 17). The risks have been reduced by entering into natural gas derivatives and fuel option contracts that effectively fix the price of natural gas purchases and fuel purchases, respectively. The natural gas derivatives and fuel option contracts are recorded on the consolidated balance sheet at fair value and any change in the fair value is deferred as a regulatory asset or liability, subject to regulatory approval, for recovery from, or refund to, customers in future rates.
The price risk-management strategy of the FortisBC Energy companies aims to improve the likelihood that natural gas prices remain competitive, mitigate gas price volatility on customer rates and reduce the risk of regional price discrepancies. As directed by the regulator in 2011, the FortisBC Energy companies have suspended their commodity hedging activities with the exception of certain limited swaps as permitted by the regulator. The existing hedging contracts will continue in effect through to their maturity and the FortisBC Energy companies' ability to fully recover the commodity cost of gas in customer rates remains unchanged. Any differences between the cost of natural gas purchased and the price of natural gas included in customer rates are recorded as regulatory deferrals and are recovered from, or refunded to, customers in future rates, subject to regulatory approval.
There were no material changes in the nature and amount of the Corporation's commitments from the commitments disclosed in the Corporation's 2012 annual audited consolidated financial statements, except as described as follows.
Maritime Electric has entitlement to approximately 4.7% of the output from the New Brunswick Power Point Lepreau nuclear generating station ("Point Lepreau") for the life of the unit. As part of its entitlement, Maritime Electric is required to pay its share of the capital and operating costs of the unit. A major refurbishment of Point Lepreau that began in 2008 was completed and the station returned to service in November 2012. The refurbishment is expected to extend the facility's estimated life an additional 27 years and, as a result, the total estimated capital cost obligation has increased approximately $51 million from that disclosed in the 2012 annual audited consolidated financial statements.
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