The Corporation's main business, utility operations, is highly regulated and the earnings of the Corporation's regulated utilities are primarily determined under cost of service ("COS") regulation. Generally under COS regulation, the respective regulatory authority sets customer gas and/or electricity rates to permit a reasonable opportunity for the utility to recover, on a timely basis, estimated costs of providing service to customers, including a fair rate of return on a regulatory deemed or targeted capital structure applied to an approved regulatory asset value ("rate base"). The ability of a regulated utility to recover prudently incurred costs of providing service and earn the regulator-approved rate of return on common shareholders' equity ("ROE") and/or rate of return on rate base assets ("ROA") depends on the utility achieving the forecasts established in the rate-setting processes. As such, earnings of regulated utilities are generally impacted by: (i) changes in the regulator-approved allowed ROE and/or ROA; (ii) changes in rate base; (iii) changes in energy sales or gas delivery volumes; (iv) changes in the number and composition of customers; (v) variances between actual expenses incurred and forecasted expenses used to determine revenue requirements and set customer rates; and (vi) timing differences within an annual financial reporting period between when actual expenses are incurred and when they are recovered from customers in rates. When forward test years are used to establish revenue requirements and set base customer rates, these rates are not adjusted as a result of actual COS being different from that which is estimated, other than for certain prescribed costs that are eligible to be deferred on the balance sheet. In addition, the Corporation's regulated utilities, where applicable, are permitted by their respective regulatory authority to flow through to customers, without markup, the cost of natural gas, fuel and/or purchased power through base customer rates and/or the use of rate stabilization and other mechanisms.
When performance-based rate-setting ("PBR") mechanisms are utilized in determining annual revenue requirements and resulting customer rates, a formula is generally applied that incorporates inflation and assumed productivity improvements. The use of PBR mechanisms should allow a utility a reasonable opportunity to recover prudent COS and earn its allowed ROE.
Pending Acquisition of CH Energy Group, Inc.: On May 3, 2013 a Recommended Decision was issued by administrative law judges in connection with the Settlement Agreement filed by Fortis, CH Energy Group, Inc. ("CH Energy Group"), New York State Public Service Commission ("PSC") staff, registered interveners and other parties in January 2013 requesting approval of the acquisition of CH Energy by Fortis. For further information on the pending acquisition and Recommended Decision, refer to the "Business Risk Management" section of this MD&A.
Settlement of Expropriation Matters - Exploits River Hydro Partnership: Effective March 2013 the Corporation and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador ("Government") settled all matters, including release from all debt obligations, pertaining to the Government's December 2008 expropriation of non-regulated hydroelectric generating assets and water rights in central Newfoundland, then owned by Exploits River Hydro Partnership ("Exploits Partnership") in which Fortis holds an indirect 51% interest. As a result of the settlement of expropriation matters, an extraordinary after-tax gain of approximately $22 million was recognized in the first quarter of 2013.
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