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Rate-regulated activities

Date recorded:

Rate-regulated Activities – Agenda paper 9

This is an education session.

The Board will continue to discuss the proposed model for rate-regulated activities. The Staff will present the following papers in this meeting:

  • Developing the model – control and matching: AP 9A
  • Developing the model – recognition and uncertainty: AP 9B

Developing the model – control and matching - Agenda paper 9A

Background

This paper summarises and refines the description of defined rate regulation. As requested by some Board members in the June 2017 meeting, the Staff also provide a deeper analysis on how a regulatory asset satisfies the control aspect of the asset definition, and clarify that the model is not merely trying to achieve ‘matching’ of regulatory income and expenses.

Staff analysis

Control

The revised Conceptual Framework (CF) defines an asset as a present economic resource controlled by the entity as a result of past events. The CF also states that for an entity to control an economic resource, the entity must have the right to deploy that resource in its activities and the economic benefits from that resource must flow to the entity rather than to another party.

In terms of the rate regulation model, the economic resource the model seeks to account for is the right to exchange economic resources with customers on favourable terms as a result of past events (see the examples in AP 9B of the June 2017 Board meeting). The regulatory agreement entitles the entity to use that ‘right to exchange on favourable terms’ in its business. As the favourable rate is specific to the entity, the economic benefits flowing from the favourable rate will flow to the entity and not to another party.

The CF states further that an entity need not be certain that economic benefits will flow from the right in all circumstances in order for it to control the right. In other words, it is not necessary that the entity controls whether customers will buy the regulated goods or services in the future. The degree of certainty about the volume of future sales affects the measurement of the economic benefits expected to flow to the entity. It might also affect whether the economic resource should be recognised as an asset, but it does not affect the existence of the economic resource itself.

In light of the above, the Staff believe that the entity’s right to charge a favourable rate in the future meets the definition of an asset.

Matching

The revised CF states that the recognition of assets or liabilities may result in the simultaneous recognition of income and the related expenses. However, this matching of income and expenses is the incidental outcome of the accrual basis of accounting and recognising events and transactions in profit or loss in the period to which they relate, as opposed to being a driver of the recognition of assets or liabilities. The same is true for income and expenses recognised for movements in regulatory assets and liabilities.

Developing the model – recognition and uncertainty - Agenda paper 9B

Background

In this paper, the Staff provide some initial thoughts on the types of uncertainty that are likely to exist in a rate-regulated environment which can affect the recognition and measurement of regulatory assets and liabilities. The Staff also indicate how they intend to address each type of uncertainty in developing the model.

Staff analysis

The Staff preliminarily identified three types of uncertainty in relation to a regulatory asset or liability:

1. Existence uncertainty

This relates to the uncertainty about whether a regulatory asset or liability exists.

A regulatory agreement typically does not specify every transaction or event that it is intended to cover. As such, judgement is often required to assess whether a particular event is captured within the rate-adjustment mechanism that would give the entity a right to charge a favourable rate, or an obligation to charge an unfavourable rate.

In light of this, the Staff will consider including a threshold for recognising regulatory assets and liabilities. Possible recognition thresholds include (a) virtually certain, (b) highly probable, (c) probable and (d) expected recovery of the asset or settlement of the liability. The Staff intend to look to the existing Standards, e.g. IAS 12, IFRIC 23 and IFRS 15 to develop their analysis. The Staff will also consider whether the recognition threshold should be the same for regulatory assets and regulatory liabilities.

2. Outcome uncertainty

This relates to the uncertainty about the amount and timing of cash flows that will ultimately arise from the regulatory asset or liability. This could arise from uncertainties around demand estimates and whether the rate regulator would renegotiate a previously approved rate before the entity has fully recovered the costs that the approved rate was intended to compensate.

The Staff believe that this type of uncertainty should be reflected in the measurement of the regulatory asset or liability. This will be addressed in a future meeting.

3. Measurement uncertainty

This relates to the uncertainty about the measurement of the regulatory asset or liability.

In the Staff’s view, they do not expect regulatory assets or liabilities to be subject to a significantly higher level of estimation uncertainty than other assets and liabilities. Accordingly, they do not intend to include specific requirements relating to the recognition of regulatory assets and liabilities in conditions of high measurement uncertainty.

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