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DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for its 2021 annual meeting of stockholders are incorporated by reference in Part III of this report.
Clean Energy Fuels Corp.
Annual Report on Form 10-K
For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This annual report on Form 10-K contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). Forward-looking statements are statements other than historical facts. These statements relate to future events or circumstances or our future performance, and they are based on our current assumptions, expectations and beliefs concerning future developments and their potential effect on our business. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the following words: “if,” “may,” “might,” “shall,” “will,” “can,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “goal,” “objective,” “initiative,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “project,” “forecast,” “potential,” “continue,” “ongoing” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. The absence of these words, however, does not mean that a statement is not forward-looking. The forward-looking statements we make in this report include statements about, among other things, our future financial and operating performance, our growth strategies, including expectations regarding our delivery and sales of renewable natural gas and sale of U.S. federal, state and local government credits, and anticipated trends in our industry and our business.
The preceding list is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all of the topics addressed by our forward-looking statements. Although the forward-looking statements we make reflect our good faith judgment based on available information, they are only predictions of future events and conditions. Accordingly, our forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our or our industry’s actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements. Factors that might cause or contribute to such differences include, among others, those discussed in Item 1A. Risk Factors of this report, as such factors may be amended, supplemented or superseded from time to time by other reports we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). In addition, we operate in a competitive and rapidly evolving industry in which new risks emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all of the risks we may face. Nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor or combination of factors could cause actual results to differ from our expectations. As a result of these and other potential risks and uncertainties, our forward-looking statements should not be relied on or viewed as guarantees of future events or conditions.
All of our forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made and, except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements for any reason, including to conform these statements to actual results or to changes in our expectations. You should, however, review the factors and risks we describe in the reports we will file from time to time with the SEC for the most recent information about our forward-looking statements and the risks and uncertainties related to these statements.
We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by this cautionary note.
* * * * * * *
Unless the context indicates otherwise, all references to “Clean Energy,” the “Company,” “we,” “us,” or “our” in this report refer to Clean Energy Fuels Corp., together with its majority and wholly owned subsidiaries.
We own registered or unregistered trademark or service mark rights to Clean Energy™ and Clean Energy Renewables™. Although we do not use the “®” or “™” symbol in each instance in which one of our trademarks appears in this report, this should not be construed as any indication that we will not assert our rights thereto to the fullest extent under applicable law. Any other service marks, trademarks and trade names appearing in this report are the property of their respective owners.
Investors and others should note that we disseminate information to the public about our Company, our products, services and other matters through various channels, including our website (www.cleanenergyfuels.com), SEC filings, press releases, public conference calls and webcasts, in order to achieve broad, non-exclusionary distribution of information to the public. We encourage investors and others to review the information we make public through these channels, as such information could be deemed to be material information.
Item 1. Business.
Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a Delaware corporation, is a leading renewable energy company focused on the procurement and distribution of renewable natural gas (“RNG”) and conventional natural gas, in the form of compressed natural gas (“CNG”) and liquefied natural gas (“LNG”), for the United States and Canadian transportation markets. RNG, which is delivered as either CNG or LNG, is created by the recovery and processing of naturally occurring, environmentally detrimental waste methane (“biogas”) from non-fossil fuel sources - such as dairy and other livestock waste and landfills - for beneficial use as a replacement for fossil-based transportation fuels. Methane is one of the most potent climate-harming greenhouse gasses (“GHG”) with a comparative impact on global warming that is about 25 times more powerful than that of carbon dioxide. We are focused on developing, owning, and operating dairy and other livestock waste RNG projects and supplying RNG (procured from our own projects or from third parties) to our customers in the heavy and medium -duty commercial transportation sector. We have participated in the alternative vehicle fuels industry for over 20 years and believe we are the largest U.S. provider of RNG for commercial transportation. We are in a unique position because the valuable Environmental Credits (as defined below) are generated by the party that dispenses RNG into vehicle fuel tanks, and we believe we have access to more dispensers than any other market participant.
We believe we were the first organization to supply RNG for vehicle fuel use in the U.S., and sales of our RNG for such purpose have increased from 13.0 million gasoline gallon equivalents (“GGEs”) in 2013 to 153.3 million GGEs in 2020. Overall, we are also the country’s leading provider of the cleanest fuels for the commercial transportation market, based on both the number of stations we operate and the amount of GGEs delivered of RNG, CNG and LNG, which amounted to a total of 382.5 GGEs in 2020. With the Company’s focus on RNG, our sales of RNG have grown from 12% of our vehicle fuel sales in 2013 to 74% of our vehicle fuel sales in 2020. We believe that during 2020 we provided 61% and 45% of the RNG used for transportation fuel in California and the United States, respectively.
As a comprehensive clean energy solutions provider, we also design and build, as well as operate and maintain (“O&M”), public and private vehicle fleet customer stations in the United States and Canada; sell and service compressors and other equipment used in RNG production and at fueling stations; transport and sell our fuels via “virtual” natural gas pipelines and interconnects; sell U.S. federal, state and local government credits (collectively, “Environmental Credits”) we generate by selling RNG as a vehicle fuel; and obtain federal, state and local tax credits, grants and incentives. We serve fleet vehicle operators in a variety of markets, including heavy-duty trucking, airports, refuse, public transit, industrial and institutional energy users, and government fleets. We believe these fleet markets will continue to present a growth opportunity for our vehicle fuels for the foreseeable future.
Commercial transportation, including heavy-duty trucking, generates a significant portion of the emissions of overall carbon dioxide and other climate-harming GHGs, and transitioning this sector to low and negative carbon fuels is a critical step towards reducing the overall global GHG emissions. According to the Global Carbon Project’s Global Carbon Budget published in December 2019, 36.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide were emitted globally in 2018, of which 7.0 billion metric tons, or 19%, came from the transportation sector. There is a global demand for reducing GHG emissions, as evidenced by 96% of the world’s countries having committed to the Paris Agreement according to The United Nations Framework Convention in Climate Change, 86% of S&P 500 companies focusing on sustainability metrics, including GHG emissions, according to the Governance & Accountability Institute’s Flash Report published on May 16, 2019 and 81% of global respondents from The Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey, conducted in collaboration with Nielsen and published on September 11, 2018, indicating they want companies to better address environmental issues.
Biogas, the primary source of RNG, is produced by microbes as they break down organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Our sources of commercial scale biogas are anaerobic digester gas (“ADG”), which is produced inside an airtight tank used to breakdown organic matter such as dairy and other livestock waste, and landfill gas (“LFG”), which is produced by the decomposition of organic waste at landfills.
Given the potential growth and positive environmental impact of RNG, our mission is to obtain as much RNG supply as possible. To that end we are pursuing development and ownership of dairy and other livestock waste ADG projects on our own and with partners including Total S.E. (“Total”) and BP Products North America (“bp”). Further, we enter long-term RNG supply offtake agreements with well-known third parties that own RNG production facilities. Because our business transforms waste methane into a renewable source of energy, our RNG generates valuable Environmental Credits under federal and state initiatives.
Depending on the source, the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) has determined that RNG can have a significantly negative carbon intensity score, enabling our customers to achieve a net carbon negative emissions profile.
California Air Resources Board “Current Fuel Pathways” 2018 – 2020 (5th-95th percentile)
At present, we believe the best use of RNG is as a replacement for fossil-based fuel in the transportation sector. We deliver RNG to the transportation market through 540 fueling stations we own, operate or supply in 39 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S., including over 200 stations in California. Critically, to generate valuable Environmental Credits the RNG must be placed in vehicle fuel tanks. We believe our stations and customer relationships allow us to deliver substantially more RNG to vehicle operators than any other participant in the market – we calculate that we have access to more fueling stations and vehicle fleets than all our competitors combined. As of December 31, 2020, we serve over 1,000 fleet customers operating over 48,000 vehicles on our fuels. We believe we are the only company in the U.S. that provides RNG vehicle fuel at scale in California and nationally.
Longer term, we expect to also be able to provide hydrogen fuel to vehicle fleets. As operators deploy more hydrogen powered vehicles, we can modify our fueling stations to reform our RNG and deliver clean hydrogen to customers. We also have the capability to add electric vehicle charging at our station sites, and we believe our RNG can be used to generate clean electricity to power electric vehicles.
Our Principal Products, Services and Other Business Activities
Our principal products, services and other business activities are described below. Information about the revenue we receive from these activities is discussed in this report in Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Results of Operations and Financial Condition.”
RNG, CNG and LNG Sales.
|●||Unlike other renewables, RNG is easily stored, distributed, and replenished. RNG can be injected into the existing natural gas distribution network and delivered to vehicle fuel stations and liquefaction facilities. While other sources of green and renewable energy require significant infrastructure buildout to be implemented, RNG is affordably and easily used in existing infrastructure and vehicles today. Further, CARB has determined that RNG holds the lowest carbon intensity of any on-road vehicle fuel, including fully renewable electric from solar and wind.|
|●||CNG is RNG or conventional natural gas that is compressed and dispensed in gaseous form. CNG is typically delivered by obtaining RNG or conventional natural gas from the pipeline and then compressing and storing it at a fueling station and dispensing it directly into a vehicle. Our CNG vehicle fuel sales are made primarily through contracts with our customers or on a per fill-up basis at prices we set at public access fueling stations based on prevailing market conditions. Through our subsidiary NG Advantage, LLC (“NG Advantage”), we also transport and sell CNG for non-vehicle purposes via virtual natural gas pipelines and interconnects to industrial and institutional energy users that do not have direct access to pipelines. NG Advantage also has the capability to transport RNG from production facilities to pipeline injection sites using its fleet of 113 high-capacity trailers.|
|●||LNG is RNG or conventional natural gas that is cooled at a liquefaction facility to approximately -260 degrees Fahrenheit until it condenses into a liquid. We obtain LNG from our own liquefaction plants and from third-party suppliers. We own and operate LNG liquefaction plants near Boron, California and Houston, Texas, which we refer to as the “Boron Plant” and the “Pickens Plant,” respectively. In 2020, we purchased 9.8% of our LNG from third-party suppliers, and we produced the remainder of our LNG at our plants. We sell LNG for use as a vehicle fuel on a bulk basis to fleet customers and through our network of public access fueling stations. We deliver LNG with our fleet of 74 tanker trailers to fueling stations, where it is stored and then dispensed in liquid form into vehicles. The need to liquefy and transport LNG generally causes LNG to cost more than CNG. We sell LNG through supply contracts and on a per fill-up basis at prices we set at public access fueling stations based on prevailing market conditions. Additionally, we sell LNG for non-vehicle purposes, including to customers who use LNG in rocket propulsion and oil fields, and for utility, industrial, marine and rail applications.|
Sales of Environmental Credits. We generate Environmental Credits consisting of Renewable Identification Numbers (“RINs” or “RIN Credits”), as well as credits under the California and Oregon Low Carbon Fuel Standards (collectively, “LCFS Credits”), when we sell RNG for use as a vehicle fuel in the United States, California, and Oregon, respectively. We sell these Environmental Credits to third parties who must comply with federal and state emissions requirements. Generally, the amount of Environmental Credits we generate increases as we sell higher volumes of RNG as a vehicle fuel. The number of Environmental Credits we sell and our revenue from these sales can vary depending on a number of factors, including the market for these credits, which has been volatile and subject to significant price fluctuations in recent periods (for example, in 2020 market prices for RINs were as high as approximately $2.13 and as low as approximately $0.80), any changes to the federal and state programs under which the credits are generated and sold, and our ability to strictly comply with these programs.
O&M Services. We perform maintenance service on Clean Energy-owned and customer-owned fueling stations. Our maintenance program is backed by nearly 200 company employed service technicians and support personnel, an in-house 24/7 remote monitoring center, technician training center, computerized maintenance management system and inventory warehouses throughout the United States and Canada. For maintenance services we generally charge a fixed fee or per gallon fee based on volume of fuel dispensed at the station.
Station Construction and Engineering. We design and construct fueling stations and sell or lease some of these stations to our customers. Since 2008, we have served as the general contractor or supervised qualified third-party contractors to build over 430 natural gas fueling stations.
Grant Programs. We apply for and help our fleet customers apply for federal, state and local grant programs in areas in which we operate. These programs can provide funding for vehicle purchases, fueling station construction and vehicle fuel sales.
Our Company’s Sustainability Program
Our vision is to deliver renewable transportation fuel for a cleaner, safer, more equitable tomorrow. We have a bold program, supported by ambitious goals to drive progress across three key pillars: fueling the transition to renewable energy in transportation, building the workforce for the future of renewable energy, and advancing smart policies that drive the transformation to zero carbon fuels.
Fueling Transportation’s Transition to Renewable Energy.
The fuel we provide enables our customers to transition from diesel to a solution with significantly lower GHG emissions and air quality impacts today. We are committed to pushing ourselves and our partners further by helping to produce and distribute 100% RNG fuels, which can have a negative net emissions profile. We are also committed to doing our part to reduce our own emissions across our operations and supply chain.
Building the Workforce for the Future of Renewable Energy.
At Clean Energy we have always had a strong focus on employee and contractor safety and strive to be a zero-incident workplace for our service technicians and staff, as well as our customers using our facilities. Looking towards the future, we will continue to focus on employee recruitment, retention, and engagement, with a specific emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion in all areas of our company. It is important that we maintain a diverse and inclusive workforce and supplier base that is reflective of the communities in which we operate. We acknowledge the lack of diversity in the energy sector and strive to be part of the solution. We are committed to building a diverse and inclusive leadership team and workforce.
Advancing Smart Policies that Drive the Transformation to Zero Carbon Fuels.
Widespread change will be necessary across all industries to achieve our collective climate goals. We recognize that some physical climate impacts are unavoidable in the near-term and that the transition to a low carbon economy may bring new risks to our business. We also recognize that natural gas extraction and processing causes environmental and social impacts that must be appropriately managed. By investing in the energy transition, our aim is to reduce our own risks and providing lasting benefits to society. To enable lasting change we must ensure the adoption of performance-driven state and federal policies that accelerate the shift from diesel and other transportation fuels with high GHG emissions and negative air quality impacts to zero net carbon emission transportation fuels. We are also committed to contributing to quality of life improvement and economic development in the communities where we conduct business, many of which are disadvantaged communities that suffer from poor air quality due to the use of transportation fuels, including diesel, that have high GHG emissions and significantly negative air quality impacts.
Earn Stakeholder Trust.
To realize our ambitious goals we are building trusted partnerships with our stakeholders. We strive to act ethically and responsibly in all aspects of our business, seeking to meet expectations related to human rights, labor standards, air quality, water stewardship, operational energy efficiency, biodiversity and land use, disaster preparedness, business ethics, and other material topics.
Increasing Demand for RNG
Demand for RNG produced from biogas is significant and growing in large part due to an increased focus by the U.S. public and investors, as well as federal, state, and local regulatory authorities, on reducing the emission of GHG, such as
methane. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), methane is a significant GHG, which accounted for roughly 9.5% of all U.S. GHG emissions from human activities in 2018 and which has a comparative impact on global warming that is about 25 times more powerful than that of carbon dioxide. Biogas processing facilities substantially reduce methane emissions at livestock farms and landfills, which together accounted for approximately 27% of U.S. methane emissions in 2018 according to the EPA.
Over the past decade we have seen the transportation sector be the fastest growing end market for RNG, where RNG is used as a replacement for fossil-based fuel. This growth has been principally driven by increased focus on reducing GHGs, as well as Environmental Credits to support the production of renewable transportation fuels. According to NGV America, a national organization dedicated to the development of a growing, profitable, and sustainable market for vehicles powered by RNG, from 2015 to 2020, “RNG use as a transportation fuel…increased 291%, displacing close to 7.5 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.” Further, RNG engines now commercially available for heavy-duty, regional-haul, refuse, transit, and vocational applications have been certified to satisfy CARB’s optional low nitrogen oxide (“NOx”) emission standard of 0.02 g/bhp-hr. This means that these engines emit 90% less smog-forming NOx than the existing regulatory standards, making them the lowest certified ultra-low NOx emission engines in the U.S.
Given public and investor calls for, and U.S. federal, state, and local regulatory trends and policies aimed at, reducing GHG emissions, we expect continued regulatory support for RNG as a replacement for fossil-based fuels and therefore continued and growing demand for RNG in the foreseeable future.
Increasing Vehicle Availability
RNG is a replacement for fossil-based fuel consumed by vehicles that use internal combustion engines like those used in gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicles. Virtually any car, truck, bus, or other vehicle is capable of being manufactured to run on RNG. Many types and models of heavy- and medium-duty RNG vehicles and engines are available in the U.S., including, among others, long-haul tractors, refuse trucks, regional tractors, transit buses, ready-mix trucks, delivery trucks, vocational work trucks, school buses, shuttles, pickup trucks and cargo and passenger vans.
More broadly, many companies are developing and commercializing hydrogen and electric commercial vehicles, particularly as the commercial transportation sector increasingly shifts toward low-emission, zero-emission, or carbon neutral vehicle solutions. Cummins, Daimler, Dana, Navistar, PACCAR, Volvo, XOS, Tesla and Nikola have announced their plans to bring long-haul Class 8 commercial hydrogen- and battery- powered vehicles to the market over the coming years.
Availability of Long-Term Feedstock Supply
Biogas is collected and processed to remove impurities for use as RNG and injected into existing natural gas pipelines. RNG is fully interchangeable with and chemically identical to conventional natural gas. Common sources of biogas include livestock farms, landfills, and wastewater resource recovery facilities (“WRRFs”).
Livestock- and landfill-sourced biogas represent a significant opportunity to produce RNG and reduce GHG emissions. Although LFG has accounted for most of the growth in biogas projects to date, biogas from dairy and other livestock farm waste represents significant opportunities for RNG production that remain largely untapped. According to ICF Consulting, Inc., the global consulting services company, by 2040, the U.S. has the technical potential annually to produce up to 34.4 billion GGEs of RNG, including up to 20.6 billion GGEs of ADG RNG.
All-in prices paid for RNG from livestock farms can be significantly higher than prices for RNG from landfills due to higher value available from state-level low-carbon fuel incentives for these projects. Given our market leadership in RNG, we believe we are well-positioned to take advantage of this market.
Total Joint Venture
On March 3, 2021, we entered an agreement (“Total JV Agreement”) with Total that created a 50/50 joint venture (“Total JV”) to develop ADG RNG production facilities in the United States. The Total JV Agreement contemplates that
the Total JV will invest up to $400 million of equity in production projects, and Total and the Company each committed to initially provide $50 million for the Total JV. Pursuant to the Total JV Agreement, the Company and Total have given the Total JV a limited right of first opportunity to invest in ADG RNG projects they respectively originate. To fund our equity in the Total JV, we have the option to borrow $20 million from Société Générale pursuant to the term credit agreement described below under “Key Customer Markets – Zero Now.”
bp Joint Venture
On December 18, 2020, we entered a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with bp pursuant to which we and bp intend to create a joint venture (“bpJV”) that will develop, own, and operate ADG RNG production facilities. We and bp plan to share 50/50 control of the bpJV, we will have the option to contribute up to 50% of the bpJV’s capital, and 100% of the RNG produced from the projects developed and owned by the bpJV will be provided to the vehicle fuels market pursuant to our existing marketing agreement with bp.
Contemporaneous with the execution of the MOU, we and bp executed a loan agreement whereby bp advanced $50 million to us to fund capital costs and expenses incurred prior to formation of the bpJV, including capital costs and expenses for permitting, engineering, equipment, leases and feed stock rights (“Preformation Costs”). We expect that all unpaid principal and accrued interest outstanding under the loan agreement will be contributed to the bpJV, provided that if the bpJV is not formed by April 30, 2022, we are obligated to immediately repay all the outstanding principal and accrued interest, less 50% of the Preformation Costs within five days of April 30, 2022. The outstanding principal amount of the loan accrues interest at the rate per annum equal to LIBOR plus 433 basis points; interest payable under the loan is offset by bp’s obligation to pay us a monthly management fee of $0.2 million pursuant to the MOU.
Use of Environmental Credits to Promote RNG Growth
When used as a transportation fuel, RNG can generate additional revenue streams through Environmental Credits. These Environmental Credits are provided for under a variety of programs, including the national Renewable Fuel Standards, or RFS, and state-level Low Carbon Fuel Standard, or LCFS, programs.
The RFS program requires transportation fuel to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuel. To fulfill this regulatory mandate, the EPA obligates refiners and importers (“Obligated Parties”) to blend renewable fuel with standard fuel to meet renewable volume obligations (“RVOs”). Obligated Parties can comply with RVOs by either blending RNG into their existing fuel supply or purchasing Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs. RINs are generated when eligible renewable fuels are produced or imported and blended with a petroleum product for use as a transportation fuel. The RFS program has been a key driver of growth in the RNG industry since 2014 when the EPA ruled that RNG, when used as a transportation fuel, would qualify for D3 RINs (for cellulosic biofuels), which are generally the most valuable among the four categories of RINs. In 2020, we generated 45% of all D3 RINs in the U.S.
The monetization of RNG also benefits from low-carbon fuel initiatives at the state-level, specifically from established programs in California and Oregon. California’s LCFS (“CA LCFS”) program requires fuel producers and importers to reduce the carbon intensity (“CI”) of their products, with goals of a 10% reduction in carbon emissions from 1990 levels by 2020 and a 20% reduction by 2030. CARB awards CA LCFS credits to RNG projects based on each project’s CI score relative to the target CI score for gasoline and diesel fuels. The CI score represents the overall net impact of carbon emissions for each RNG pathway and is determined on a project-by-project basis. Because our business involves the capture and transformation of waste methane into a renewable source of energy, our customers are able to significantly reduce, if not eliminate, GHG emissions from their commercial transportation activities. Further, CARB calculates that RNG produced by livestock farms as carbon negative, generating substantial incremental CA LCFS credits. Multiple other states, including New York, Washington, New Mexico, and Colorado, are considering LCFS initiatives like those
implemented in California and Oregon. In 2020, we generated 37% of all LCFS credits under Bio-CNG and Bio-LNG pathways in the CA LCFS.
We aim to maintain and increase our position as the leading provider of RNG to the commercial vehicle market in the U.S., and our goal is to deliver 100% RNG to our entire fueling infrastructure by 2025. We support this objective through a multi-pronged strategy of:
|●||promoting the reduction of GHG emissions and expanding the use of renewable fuels to displace fossil-based fuels;|
|●||increasing supply of RNG through the development of new project investment opportunities, expanding our existing supplier portfolio, and leveraging our existing fuel network and customer relationships;|
|●||empowering our customers to achieve their sustainability and carbon reduction objectives;|
|●||exploiting our management expertise; and|
|●||utilizing our environmental, health and safety and compliance leadership.|
Promoting the Reduction of Methane Emissions and Expanding the Use of Renewable Fuels to Displace Fossil-Based Fuels.
We share the renewable fuel industry’s commitment to providing sustainable renewable energy solutions and to offering products with high economic and ecological value. By simultaneously replacing fossil-based fuels and reducing overall methane emissions, our business has a substantial positive environmental impact. We are committed to the sustainable development, deployment, and utilization of RNG to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels. In addition to its methane emission benefits, the increased production and use of RNG has several other environmental benefits. Anaerobically digested livestock waste produces significantly less odor than conventional storage and land application systems. The odor of stored livestock waste mainly comes from volatile organic acids and hydrogen sulfide, which has a “rotten egg” smell. In an anaerobic digester, volatile organic compounds are reduced to methane and carbon dioxide, which are odorless gases. The volatized fraction of hydrogen sulfide is captured with the collected ADG and destroyed. Anaerobic digestion provides several water quality and land conservation benefits as well. Digesters, particularly heated digesters, can destroy more than 90% of disease-causing bacteria that might otherwise enter surface waters and pose a risk to human and animal health. Digesters also reduce biochemical oxygen demand (“BOD”). BOD is one measure of the potential for organic wastes to reduce dissolved oxygen in natural waters. Because fish and other aquatic organisms need minimum levels of dissolved oxygen for survival, farm practices that reduce BOD protect the health of aquatic ecosystems. In addition to protecting local water resources, implementing anaerobic digesters on livestock facilities improves soil health. Adding digestate to soil increases the organic matter content, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, improves plant growth and alleviates soil compaction. Further, digestion converts nutrients in manure to a more accessible form for plants to use. The risks of water and soil contamination from flooding of open lagoons are also mitigated by digesters.
Increasing Supply of RNG through the Development of New Project Opportunities, Expanding Our Existing Supplier Portfolio, and Leveraging our Extensive Fueling Station Network and Customer Relationships.
In our view, the market has not yet unlocked the full potential of RNG. We believe we were the first to deliver RNG to the commercial vehicle fuels market, have the most extensive RNG fueling infrastructure and customer relationships, and our stations and customer relationships allow us to obtain and deliver substantially more RNG to vehicle operators than any other participant in the market. This is important because RNG must be placed in vehicle fuel tanks to generate the valuable Environmental Credits.
Dependable and economic sources of RNG are critical to our success. We continue to leverage our relationships built over the past several decades to identify and execute new RNG project development and supply offtake opportunities.
These come from our relationships with feedstock owners and project developers who value our long operating history, strong reputation in the industry and unmatched access to fueling infrastructure and vehicle operators for certainty of Environmental Credit generation. Based on the foregoing, we believe that we are presented with nearly every material development, supply and distribution opportunity in the market.
We exercise financial discipline in pursuing projects by targeting project returns that are in line with the relative risk of the specific projects and associated feedstock costs and any related attributes that can be monetized. We also support third parties that own RNG production facilities by entering long-term RNG supply offtake agreements. As these facility owners expand their operations, we provide additional access to our fueling infrastructure and customer relationships.
As of December 31, 2020, we obtain RNG from over 30 supply sources. We believe that we have one of the largest and most diverse supply portfolios in the RNG industry, which allows us to provide certainty of RNG supply to our vehicle operator customers.
In our view, all the foregoing gives us a competitive advantage relative to existing and new market entrants.
Empowering our customers to achieve their sustainability and carbon reduction objectives.
In November 2021, global leaders will meet in Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to draw up a successor plan to the Paris Agreement. With evidence indicating that the Paris Agreement targets may fall short of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, governments and regulators globally face mounting public pressure to address the threat of climate change. President Biden has already issued an executive order for the United States to re-join the Paris Agreement and key investors have made climate change risk management a key priority: BlackRock has stated in its 2021 stewardship expectations guidelines that “[t]he events of  have intensified our conviction that sustainability risk—and climate risk in particular—is investment risk” and plans to expand its engagement to the over 1,000 companies that are responsible for producing 90% of GHG emissions in its investment portfolio. Similarly, in his letter to boards, Cyrus Taraporevala, State Street’s CEO and President, said the asset manager will be elevating its focus on climate risk, noting that ahead of COP26, “policymakers are assessing progress on climate change action . . . many jurisdictions are signaling their intentions to make climate risk disclosure mandatory.” Vanguard has determined that “it is critical that public company boards fully understand and own climate-related risks.”
We are uniquely positioned to empower our customers to achieve their sustainability and carbon reduction goals. Because our business involves the capture and transformation of waste methane into a renewable source of energy, we believe our customers can significantly reduce, if not eliminate, GHG emissions from their commercial transportation activities. Further, our RNG is available today to reduce climate harming GHG and meet sustainability objectives and at a cost to customers that is very competitive to other fuels like diesel. We also assist our customers in their transition to cleaner transportation fuels by helping them obtain federal, state and local tax credits, grants and incentives, providing vehicle financing, including through our Zero Now and Chevron Adopt-a-Port programs, engineering and constructing fueling stations, and facilitating customer selection of vehicle specifications that best meet their needs.
Our management team has decades of combined experience in the alternative vehicle fueling industry. We believe our team’s proven track record in alternative vehicle fuels and focus on RNG gives us a strategic advantage in continuing to grow our business profitably. Our diverse experience and integration of key technical, environmental, and administrative support functions, along with our first-to-market advantage, further our ability to successfully delivery RNG to the commercial vehicle fuels market.
Environmental, Health and Safety and Compliance Leadership
Our executive team places the highest priority on the health and safety of our staff and third parties, as well as the preservation of the environment. Our corporate culture is built around supporting these priorities, as reflected in our well-established practices and policies. By setting and maintaining high standards in the renewable energy field, we are often able to contribute positively to the safety practices and policies of our partners and customers. Our high safety standards
include use of wireless gas monitoring safety devices, active monitoring of all field workers, performing environmental health and safety (“EHS”) audits and using technology throughout our safety processes from employee training in compliance with operational processes and procedures to emergency preparedness. By extension, we incorporate our EHS standards into our subcontractor selection qualifications to ensure that our commitment to high EHS standards is shared by our subcontractors. For 2020, excluding one incident related to COVID-19, our Total Recordable Incident Rate (“TRIR”) was 1.43, which is lower than the 2019 national average of 3.00 TRIR for all industries. As of December 31, 2020, we have not received any U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) or state OSHA citations in the last five years.
How We Generate Revenue
We generate revenue from selling RNG and conventional natural gas as a vehicle fuel, as well as selling the associated Environmental Credits. RNG made up 74% of our vehicle fuel sales in 2020, and we expect 100% of our vehicle fuel sales to be RNG by 2025. While RNG has the same chemical composition as natural gas from fossil sources, it has unique Environmental Credits assigned to it due to its origin from low- and negative-carbon, renewable sources. The Environmental Credits that we sell are composed of RINs and state low-carbon fuel credits, including CA LCFS credits, which are generated from the conversion of biogas to RNG that is used as a transportation fuel.
In addition to revenues generated from sales of RNG and conventional natural gas as a vehicle fuel and Environmental Credits, we also generate revenues by providing O&M services for public and private RNG, natural gas and hydrogen vehicle fleet customer stations; selling and servicing compressors and other equipment used in RNG production and at RNG, natural gas and hydrogen stations; and obtaining federal, state and local tax credits, grants and incentives.
We are experts in the engineering, design and construction of fueling stations. When we build stations for customers, we charge construction, other fees, or lease rates based on the size and complexity of the project. Since 2008, we have served as the general contractor or supervised qualified third-party contractors to build over 430 fueling stations. We use a combination of custom designed and off-the-shelf equipment to build fueling stations.
|●||Equipment for RNG stations consists of compressors, storage tanks, and dispensers.|
|●||As operators deploy hydrogen-powered vehicles, we can modify our fueling stations and build additional stations to dispense clean hydrogen produced from our RNG. The equipment for hydrogen stations includes hydrogen reformers, compressors, storage tanks and dispensers, provided that the cost of adding hydrogen fueling may be significant.|
|●||We also have the capability to add high speed level 3 electric vehicle charging at our station sites, and our RNG can be used as a clean resource to power electric vehicles via on-site generation and/or routing to the electric grid serving our stations, provided that the cost of adding electric vehicle charging capacity may be significant.|
Key Customer Markets
We serve customers in a variety of markets, including trucking, airports, refuse and public transit. We believe these customer markets are well-suited for the adoption of RNG and other alternative vehicle fuels because they consume relatively high volumes of fuel, refuel at centralized locations or along well-defined routes and/or are facing increasingly stringent emissions or other environmental requirements. During the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, no single customer accounted for 10% or more of our total revenue.
We believe heavy-duty trucking represents the greatest opportunity for RNG and other alternatives to be used as a vehicle fuel. We estimate there are over 15 million heavy-duty trucks operating in the U.S. using over 22 billion gallons of diesel fuel each year. As of December 31, 2020, we provided our fuels to over 4,000 heavy-duty trucks. Because these high-mileage vehicles consume substantial amounts of fuel, operators can derive significant benefits from the carbon and GHG reductions associated with our vehicle fuels. We are focused on fueling more heavy-duty trucks, and many well-
known shippers, manufacturers, retailers and other truck fleet operators have started to use RNG fueled trucks to move their freight, including among others Amazon, Pepsi Frito-Lay, FedEx, Anheuser-Busch, USPS, UPS, Kroger, KeHe Distributors, Kenan Advantage Group, and Estes Express.
To help facilitate the transition of trucking fleets to our fuels, we have launched the Zero Now truck financing program, which is intended to increase the deployment of the commercially available RNG heavy-duty trucks in the U.S. The Zero Now program generally involves the following:
|●||One or more truck leasing or finance companies lease or sell RNG heavy-duty trucks to vehicle fleets pursuant to lease or sale agreements with the fleet operators and with us, providing for periodic payments by the fleet operators of amounts equal to the payments that will be made for the lease or purchase of an equivalent truck that operates on diesel fuel, and providing for payment by us of the incremental cost of the RNG truck over and above the diesel-equivalent truck; and|
|●||The fleet operators participating in the program enter into fueling agreements with us, under which the operators agree to purchase from us, and we agree to supply, minimum monthly volumes of RNG at prices (which are lower than diesel prices per GGE) to operate the trucks leased or purchased in the program and allow us to recoup our payment of the incremental cost of the RNG trucks.|
We have entered into the following agreements to implement the Zero Now program:
|●||In January 2019, we entered into a term credit agreement with Société Générale (“SG”), as lender, under which we are permitted to draw, from time to time, through the beginning of January 2022, up to an aggregate of $100.0 million to satisfy our payment obligations for the incremental cost of RNG trucks under the truck lease or sale agreements described above; and|
|●||In January 2019, we entered into a credit support agreement with Total Holdings USA Inc. (“THUSA”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Total (which indirectly through another of its subsidiaries, holds approximately 25% of our outstanding common stock), pursuant to which THUSA has guaranteed our obligations under the term credit agreement with SG. In consideration for such guaranty, we have agreed to pay to THUSA a quarterly fee at a rate per annum equal to 10% of the average amount owed by us under the term credit agreement during the preceding quarter.|
In addition, we are supporting the growth of the RNG heavy-duty truck market through commodity swap arrangements under which we have locked in a discount price to diesel for customers fueling with us; our negotiation of favorable fuel tank pricing from manufacturers, which we are passing along to our customers; and our network of truck-friendly fueling stations (we refer to this network as “America’s Natural Gas Highway” or “ANGH”), which we have built in key locations nationwide. Many existing ANGH stations are located at Pilot Travel Centers, the largest truck fueling operator in the United States.
Chevron Adopt-a-Port Program
In 2020, we partnered with Chevron on Adopt-a-Port, an initiative that provides truck operators serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with RNG to reduce emissions. For its part, Chevron provides funding for Adopt-a-Port and supplies RNG to Clean Energy stations near the ports. Chevron’s funding allows truck operators to subsidize the cost of buying new RNG-powered trucks. We manage the program, including offering fueling services for qualified truck operators. Truck operators participating in the program, which supports the ports’ Clean Trucks Program and Clean Air Action Plan, fuel at our stations supplied with Chevron RNG. Importantly, Adopt-a-Port provides a meaningful air quality improvement for the adversely-impacted communities around the port – such communities typically have the worst air quality in the nation. As of December 31, 2020, customers had ordered 141 trucks under Adopt-a-Port, and we expect at least 310 additional trucks to be ordered in 2021.
We estimate that vehicles serving airports in the United States, including airport delivery fleets, rental car and parking passenger shuttles and taxis, consume an aggregate of approximately two billion gallons of fuel per year. Additionally, many U.S. airports face emissions challenges and are under regulatory directives and political pressure to reduce pollution, particularly as part of any expansion plans. As a result, many of these airports have adopted various strategies to address tailpipe emissions, including rental car and hotel shuttle consolidation and requiring or encouraging service vehicle operators to switch their fleets to our vehicle fuels. As of December 31, 2020, we serve customers at 32 airports.
We believe that there are nearly 200,000 refuse trucks in the United States that collect and haul refuse and recyclables, which aggregately consume approximately two billion gallons of fuel per year. We estimate that approximately 60% of new refuse trucks are capable of operating on RNG, up from approximately 3% of new refuse trucks in 2008. Refuse haulers are increasingly adopting trucks that run on our vehicle fuels to realize operational savings and to address demands for reduced emissions from the public, investors, and governmental agencies. As of December 31, 2020, we fuel approximately 14,000 refuse vehicles for customers including Waste Management, Republic Services, Waste Connections, GFL Environmental, Atlas Disposal, Burrtec, CR&R, Recology and Waste Pro, among others. We also provide vehicle fueling services to municipal refuse fleets.
We believe that there are over 71,000 municipal transit buses operating in the United States. In many areas, increasingly stringent emissions standards have limited the fueling options available to public transit operators. Also, transit agencies typically fuel at a central location and use high volumes of fuel. We estimate that transit agencies in the United States consume approximately one billion gallons of fuel per year. Many transit agencies have been early adopters of vehicles using our fuels, and over 25% of existing transit buses and approximately 35% of new transit buses can operate on RNG. As of December 31, 2020, we fuel over 9,000 transit vehicles for customers including Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, New York MTA, Foothill Transit (Los Angeles County, California), Orange County Transit Authority, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Phoenix Transit, New Jersey Transit, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, NICE Bus (Nassau County, New York) and Washington Metro Area Transportation Authority.
There are many other companies operating in the renewable energy and waste-to-energy space. Regarding RNG production and supply, our primary competition is from other companies or solutions for access to biogas from waste. Evolving consumer preferences, regulatory conditions, ongoing waste industry trends, and project economics have a strong effect on the competitive landscape. We have demonstrated a track record of strategic flexibility across our history which has allowed us to pivot towards projects and markets that we believe deliver optimal returns and stockholder value in response to changes in market, regulatory and competitive pressures. The biogas and RNG markets are heavily fragmented. We believe we are in a strong position to compete for new project development and supply opportunities. Competition for such opportunities, however, including the prices being offered for fuel supply, impact profitability of opportunities to us, and may make opportunities unsuitable to pursue.
The market for vehicle fuels is highly competitive. The biggest competition for RNG use as a vehicle fuel is gasoline and diesel because most vehicles in our key markets are powered by these fuels. Many established businesses are in the market for RNG and other alternatives for use as vehicle fuel, including alternative vehicle and alternative fuel companies, refuse collectors, industrial gas companies, truck stop and fuel station owners, fuel providers, utilities and their affiliates and other organizations. We also compete with suppliers of other alternative vehicle fuels, including renewable diesel, biodiesel and ethanol, as well as producers and fuelers of alternative vehicles, including hybrid, electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Additionally, our stations compete directly with other natural gas fueling stations and indirectly with electric vehicle charging stations and fueling stations for other vehicle fuels. In addition, we transport and sell CNG through NG Advantage’s virtual natural gas pipelines and interconnects and compete with other participants in this market.
If the alternative vehicle fuel market grows then the number and type of participants in this market and their level of capital and other commitments to alternative vehicle fuel programs we expect to increase. We compete for vehicle fuel users based on demand for the type of fuel, which may be affected by a variety of factors, including, among others, cost, supply, availability, quality, cleanliness, and safety of the fuel; cost, availability and reputation of vehicles and engines; convenience and accessibility of fueling stations; regulatory mandates and other requirements; and recognition of the brand. We believe we compare favorably with our competitors based on these factors; however, some of our competitors have substantially greater financial, marketing, and other resources than we have. As a result, these competitors may be able to respond more quickly to changes in customer preferences, legal requirements or other industry or regulatory trends; devote greater resources to the development, promotion and sale of their products; adopt more aggressive pricing policies, dedicate more effort to infrastructure and systems development in support of their business or product development activities; implement more robust or creative initiatives to advance consumer acceptance of their products; or exert more influence on the regulatory landscape that impacts the vehicle fuels market.
We are subject to a variety of federal, state and local laws and regulations relating to the environment, health and safety, labor and employment, building codes and construction, zoning and land use, the government procurement process, any political activities or lobbying in which we may engage, public reporting and taxation, among others. Many of these laws and regulations are complex, change frequently and have become more stringent over time. Any changes to existing regulations, adoption of new regulations or failure by us to comply with applicable regulations may result in significant additional expense to us or our customers or a variety of administrative, civil, and criminal enforcement measures, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, financial condition and results of operations. Certain regulations that significantly affect our various operating activities are described below. Compliance with these regulations has not had a material effect on our capital expenditures, earnings, or competitive position to date, but new regulations or amendments to existing regulations to make them more stringent could have such an effect in the future. We cannot estimate the expenses we may incur to comply with potential new laws or changes to existing laws, or the other potential effects these laws may have on our business, and these unknown costs and effects are not specifically contemplated by our existing customer agreements or our budgets and cost estimates.
We are subject to federal, state, and local air quality, solid waste, and water quality regulations and permitting requirements. Specific construction and operating permit requirements may differ among states. Specific permits we frequently must obtain include air permits, nonhazardous waste management permits, pollutant discharge elimination permits, and beneficial use permits. We must also maintain compliance with relevant federal, state and local environmental, health and safety requirements.
RNG projects are subject to federal RFS program regulations. The EPA administers the RFS program with volume requirements for several categories of renewable fuels. The EPA’s RFS regulations establish rules for fuel supplied and administer the RIN system for compliance, trading credits and rules for waivers. The EPA calculates a blending standard for each year based on estimates of gasoline usage from the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency. Separate quotas and blending requirements are determined for cellulosic biofuels, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuels, and total renewable fuel. Further, we are required to register each RNG project with the EPA and relevant state regulatory agencies. We qualify our RINs through a voluntary Quality Assurance Plan, which typically takes from three to five months from first injection of RNG into the commercial pipeline system. Further, we may make a large project investment prior to receiving the regulatory approval and RIN qualification. In addition to registering each RNG project, we are subject to quarterly audits under the Quality Assurance Plan of our projects to validate our qualification.
Our operations are also subject to state renewable fuel standard regulations. The CA LCFS program requires producers of petroleum-based fuels to reduce the CI of their products, beginning with a quarter of a percent in 2011 a 10% total reduction by 2020, and a 20% total reduction by 2030. Petroleum importers, refiners and wholesalers can either develop their own low-carbon fuel products or buy CA LCFS credits from other companies that develop and sell low-carbon alternative fuels, such as biofuels, electricity, natural gas, or hydrogen. We are subject to a qualification process like that for RINs, including verification of CI levels and other requirements, existing for CA LCFS credits.
Before an RNG project can be developed, all Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) Subtitle D requirements (requirements for nonhazardous solid waste management) must be satisfied. In particular, because methane is explosive in certain concentrations and poses a hazard if it migrates, biogas collection systems must meet RCRA Subtitle D standards for gas control. RNG projects may be subject to other federal, state and local regulations that impose requirements for nonhazardous solid waste management.
Certain of our operations may be subject to federal requirements to prepare for and respond to spills or releases from tanks and other equipment and provide training on operation, maintenance and discharge prevention procedures and the applicable pollution control laws. We may be required to develop spill prevention, control and countermeasure plans to memorialize our preparation and response plans and to update them on a regular basis.
Our operations may result in liability for hazardous substances or other materials placed into soil or groundwater. Pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 or other federal, state, or local laws governing the investigation and cleanup of sites contaminated with hazardous substances, we may be required to investigate and/or remediate soil and groundwater contamination at our projects, contiguous and adjacent properties and other properties owned and/or operated by third parties.
Additionally, biogas projects may need to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits if wastewater is discharged directly to a receiving water body. If wastewater is discharged to a local sewer system, biogas projects may need to obtain an industrial wastewater permit from a local regulatory authority for discharges to a Publicly Owned Treatment Works. The authority to issue these permits may be delegated to state or local governments by the EPA. The permits, which typically last five years, limit the quantity and concentration of pollutants that may be discharged. Permits may require wastewater treatment or impose other operating conditions to ensure compliance with the limits. In addition, the Clean Water Act and implementing state laws and regulations require individual permits or coverage under general permits for discharges of storm water runoff from certain types of facilities.
On September 23, 2020, the California Governor issued an Executive Order N-79-20 setting goals for expanding the sale and use of zero-emission vehicles within California, including 100% of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks to be zero-emission by 2035, and 100% of medium- and heavy-duty truck vehicles in California to be zero-emission by 2045 for all operations where feasible. The Governor also directed CARB to develop and propose regulations to achieve these goals consistent with state and federal law. This order is the latest in a series of targets set by California to transform the energy and transportation fuel sectors and reduce GHG emissions. Executive Order B55-18 sets a statewide target to achieve carbon neutrality no later than 2045. The transitioning of California’s energy markets to increased reliance on renewable and carbon-free sources has the potential to create favorable market conditions for RNG but could also harm our vehicle fueling business. Future regulatory actions will be required to meet the state’s zero-emission and carbon neutrality targets.
Employees and our Human Capital
As of December 31, 2020, we employed 465 people. We have not experienced any work stoppages, and none of our employees is subject to collective bargaining agreements.
The success and growth of our business is significantly correlated with our ability to recruit, train, promote and retain talented individuals at all levels of our organization. To succeed in a competitive labor market, we have developed and maintain key recruitment and retention strategies. These include competitive salary structures, including bonus compensation programs, and competitive benefits policies, including paid time off for vacations, sick leave and holidays, short-term disability coverage, group term life insurance, and various retirement savings and incentive plans.
Safety of our personnel is a core value of Clean Energy and maintaining a safe work environment is critical to an energy company’s ability to attract and retain employees. To support the health and safety of our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have enhanced our safety protocols to promote social distancing, implemented more extensive cleaning and sanitation processes, incorporated temperature checks, required facial covering, instituted employee questionnaires, restricted corporate travel and visitor access to facilities, and implemented work-from-home and work-flex initiatives for certain employees.
Sales and Marketing
We market our brands, products and services primarily through our direct sales force, which includes sales representatives covering all of our major geographic and customer markets, as well as attendance at trade shows and participation in industry conferences and events. Our sales and marketing team also works closely with federal, state and local government agencies to provide education about the value of our vehicle fuels and to keep abreast of proposed and newly adopted regulations that affect our industry.
To some extent, our business may experience seasonality. For more information, see the discussion under “Seasonality and Inflation” in Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”
Our intellectual property rights primarily consist of trade secrets, know-how and trademarks, and we rely on a combination of trademark laws, trade secret laws, confidentiality provisions and other contractual provisions to protect these rights and our proprietary information. These intellectual property rights help us to retain existing business and secure new relationships with customers.
Our website is located at www.cleanenergyfuels.com. We make available, free of charge on our website, our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. The SEC maintains a website at www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC, including us. All references to our website in this report are inactive textual references, and the contents of our website are not incorporated into this report.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
An investment in our Company involves a high degree of risk of loss. You should carefully consider the risk factors discussed below and all the other information included in this report before you make any investment decision regarding our securities. We believe the risks and uncertainties described below are the most significant we face, but additional risks and uncertainties not known to us or that we currently deem immaterial could also be or become significant. The occurrence of any of these risks could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations, prospects and reputation and could cause the trading price of our common stock to decline.
Risks Related to Our Business
The COVID-19 pandemic and measures intended to reduce its spread has, and may continue to, adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Beginning in late 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) spread throughout the world, including the United States, ultimately being declared a pandemic. Global health concerns and increased efforts to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted federal, state and local governments to restrict normal daily activities, which resulted in travel bans, quarantines, “shelter-in-place” orders requiring individuals to remain in their homes other than to conduct essential services or activities, business limitations and shutdowns (subject to exceptions for certain essential operations and businesses, including our business). Some of these governmental restrictions have since been scaled back or lifted, although an increase in the prevalence of COVID-19 cases and the spread of new variants may result in the re-imposition of certain restrictions and may lead to other restrictions being implemented in response to efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Given the dynamic nature of these circumstances and the related adverse impact these restrictions have had,
and may continue to have, on the economy generally, our business and financial results may continue to be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our operations have been designated “essential critical infrastructure work” in the energy sector by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, meaning that we have been able to continue full operations. Despite our essential designation and our continued operations, however, we are subject to various risk and uncertainties because of the COVID-19 pandemic that could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition, including the following:
|●||a further delay in the adoption of our RNG and natural gas vehicle fuels by heavy-duty trucks and/or a delay in increasing the use of our vehicle fuels;|
|●||a continued or further decrease in the volume of truck and fleet operations, including shuttle busses at airports, and lower-than-normal levels of public transportation generally, which have resulted and may continue to result in decreased demand for our vehicle fuels;|
|●||the impact of business disruptions on the production of vehicles and engines that use our fuels, which has resulted in, and may continue to result in, plant closures, decreased manufacturing capacity, and delays in deliveries; and|
|●||depressed oil and diesel prices, especially relative to natural gas prices and for a prolonged period, which may decrease the price-related incentive for operators to adopt trucks that use our vehicle fuels.|
The duration and extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and financial results will depend on future developments, including the duration, severity and spread of the pandemic, actions taken to contain its spread, any further resurgence of COVID-19, the severity and transmission rates of new variants of COVID-19, the availability, distribution and efficacy of vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19, and how quickly and to what extent normal economic and operating conditions can resume within the markets in which we operate, each of which are highly uncertain at this time and outside of our control. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, we may continue to experience adverse effects to our business and financial results because of its global economic impact, including any economic downturn or recession that has occurred or may occur. The adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, results of operations and financial condition could be material.
Our success is dependent on the willingness of fleets and other consumers to adopt our vehicle fuels, which may not occur in a timely manner, at expected levels or at all.
Our success is highly dependent on the adoption by fleets and other consumers of our RNG and conventional natural gas vehicle fuels. The market for our vehicle fuels has experienced slow, volatile and unpredictable growth in many sectors. For example, adoption and deployment of our vehicle fuels in heavy-duty trucking has been slower and more limited than we anticipated. Also, other important fleet markets, including airports and public transit, had slower volume and customer growth in 2018, 2019 and 2020 that may continue. If the market for our vehicle fuels does not develop at improved rates or levels, or if a market develops but we are not able to capture a significant share of the market or the market subsequently declines, our business, prospects, financial condition, and operating results would be harmed.
Factors that may influence the adoption of our vehicle fuels, many of which are beyond our control, include, among others:
|●||Lack of demand for trucks that use our vehicle fuels due to business disruptions and depressed oil prices;|
|●||Adoption of government policies or programs or increased publicity or popular sentiment in favor of vehicles or fuels other than RNG and natural gas, including long-standing support for gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles, changes to emissions requirements applicable to vehicles powered by gasoline, diesel, RNG, natural gas, or other vehicle fuels and/or growing support for electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles;|
|●||Perceptions about the benefits of our vehicle fuels relative to gasoline, diesel and other alternative vehicle fuels, including with respect to factors such as supply, cost savings, environmental benefits and safety;|
|●||Increases, decreases or volatility in the supply, demand, use and prices of crude oil, gasoline, diesel, RNG, natural gas and other vehicle fuels, such as electricity, hydrogen, renewable diesel, biodiesel and ethanol;|
|●||Inertia among fleets and fleet vehicle operators, who may be unable or unwilling to prioritize converting a fleet to our vehicle fuels over an operator’s other general business concerns, particularly if the operator is not sufficiently incentivized by emissions regulations or other requirements or lacks demand for the conversion from its customers or drivers;|
|●||Vehicle cost, fuel efficiency, availability, quality, safety, convenience (to fuel and service), design, performance and residual value, as well as operator perception with respect to these factors, generally and in our key customer markets and relative to comparable vehicles powered by other fuels;|
|●||The development, production, cost, availability, performance, sales and marketing and reputation of engines that are well-suited for the vehicles used in our key customer markets, including heavy-duty trucks and other fleets;|
|●||Increasing competition in the market for vehicle fuels generally, and the nature and effect of competitive developments in this market, including improvements in or perceived advantages of other vehicle fuels and engines powered by these fuels;|
|●||The availability and effect of environmental, tax or other government regulations, programs or incentives that promote our products or other alternatives as a vehicle fuel, including certain programs under which we generate credits by selling RNG as a vehicle fuel, as well as the market prices for such credits; and|
|●||Emissions and other environmental regulations and pressures on producing, transporting, and dispensing our fuels.|
In June 2020, the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, adopted the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation, which requires manufacturers to sell a gradually increasing proportion of zero-emission electric trucks, vans and pickup trucks from 2024 onwards. By the year 2045, the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation seeks to have every new commercial vehicle sold in California be zero-emissions. Further, in September 2020, the Governor of the State of California issued an executive order (the “September 2020 Executive Order”) providing that it shall be the goal of California that (i) 100% of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission by 2035, (ii) 100% of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in California will be zero-emission by 2045 for all operations, where feasible, and by 2035 for drayage trucks, and (iii) the state will transition to 100% zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment by 2035 where feasible. The September 2020 Executive Order also directed CARB to develop and propose regulations and strategies aimed at achieving the foregoing goals. Among other things, we believe the intent of the Advanced Clean Trucks Regulation and the September 2020 Executive Order is to limit and ultimately discontinue the production and use of internal combustion engines because such engines have “tailpipe” emissions. If either the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation or any additional regulations adopted by CARB, including because of the September 2020 Executive Order, is permitted to take effect, it may slow, delay or prevent the adoption by fleets and other commercial consumers of our vehicle fuels, particularly in California. Moreover, because of the adoption of the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation and the issuance of the September 2020 Executive Order, other states have taken steps to enact similar regulations, which actions may accelerate if either regulation is permitted to take effect, thereby slowing, delaying or preventing the adoption of our vehicle fuels in those states as well.
Our RNG business may not be successful.
Our RNG business consists of procuring RNG from projects we plan to develop and own or from projects owned by third-party producers and reselling this RNG through our fueling infrastructure.
The success of our RNG business depends on our ability to secure, on acceptable terms, a sufficient supply of RNG; sell this RNG in adequate volumes and at prices that are attractive to customers and produce acceptable margins for us; and sell Environmental Credits we may generate under applicable federal or state programs from our sale of RNG as a vehicle fuel at favorable prices.
Our ability to maintain an adequate supply of RNG is subject to risks affecting RNG production. Projects that produce RNG often experience unpredictable production levels or other difficulties due to a variety of factors, including, among others, problems with equipment, severe weather, pandemics, or other health crises, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, construction delays, technical difficulties, high operating costs, limited availability, or unfavorable composition of collected feedstock gas, and plant shutdowns caused by upgrades, expansion or required maintenance. In addition, increasing demand for RNG will result in more robust competition for supplies of RNG, including from other vehicle fuel providers, gas utilities (which may have distinct advantages in accessing RNG supply including potential use of ratepayer funds to fund RNG purchases if approved by a utility’s regulatory commission) and other users and providers. If we or any of our RNG suppliers experience these or other difficulties in RNG production processes, or if competition for RNG development projects and supply increases, then our supply of RNG and our ability to resell it as a vehicle fuel could be jeopardized.
Our ability to generate revenue from our sale of RNG or our generation and sale of Environmental Credits depends on many factors, including the markets for RNG as a vehicle fuel and for Environmental Credits. The markets for Environmental Credits have been volatile and unpredictable in recent periods, and the prices for these credits are subject to fluctuations. For example, in 2020 market prices for RINs fluctuated from as high as $2.13 to as low as $0.80. Additionally, the value of Environmental Credits, and consequently the revenue levels we may receive from our sale of these credits, may be adversely affected by changes to the federal and state programs under which these credits are generated and sold, prices for and use of oil, diesel or gasoline, the inclusion of additional qualifying fuels in the programs, increased production and use of other fuels in the programs, or other conditions. Our ability to generate revenue from sales of Environmental Credits depends on our strict compliance with these federal and state programs, which are complex and can involve a significant degree of judgment. If the agencies that administer and enforce these programs disagree with our judgments, otherwise determine we are not in compliance, conduct reviews of our activities or make changes to the programs, then our ability to generate or sell these credits could be temporarily restricted pending completion of reviews or as a penalty, permanently limited or lost entirely, and we could also be subject to fines or other sanctions. Any of these outcomes could force us to purchase credits in the open market to cover any credits we have contracted to sell, retire credits we may have generated but not yet sold, reduce or eliminate a significant revenue stream or incur substantial additional and unplanned expenses. We experienced many of these effects in connection with the administrative review by CARB of our generation of LCFS Credits in the third and fourth quarters of 2017, during which we were restricted from selling and transferring accumulated LCFS Credits, we were required to make cash payments to third parties to settle preexisting commitments to transfer LCFS Credits, and certain of our LCFS Credits were invalidated. Any permanent or temporary discontinuation or suspension of federal and state programs to provide credits, grants and incentives, such as an alternative fuels tax credit (“AFTC”), would also adversely impact our revenue. Moreover, in the absence of programs that allow us to generate and sell Environmental Credits or other federal and state programs that support the RNG vehicle fuel market, or if our customers are not willing to pay a premium for RNG, we may be unable to operate our RNG business profitably or at all.
Our commercial success depends on the ability of us and our third-party supply sources to successfully develop and operate projects and produce expected volumes of RNG.
Our specific focus on RNG exposes us to risks related to the supply of and demand for RNG and Environmental Credits, the cost of capital expenditures, government regulation, and economic conditions, among other factors. As an RNG supplier we may also be negatively affected by lower RNG production resulting from lack of feedstock, mechanical breakdowns, faulty technology, competitive markets or changes to the laws and regulations that mandate the use of renewable energy sources.
In addition, other factors related to the development and operation of renewable energy projects could adversely affect our business, including: (i) changes in pipeline gas quality standards or other regulatory changes that may limit our ability to transport RNG on pipelines for delivery to vehicles or increase the costs of processing RNG to allow for such deliveries; (ii) construction risks, including the risk of delay, that may arise because of inclement weather or labor disruptions; (iii) operating risks and the effect of disruptions on our business; (iv) budget overruns and exposure to liabilities because of unforeseen environmental, construction, technological or other complications; (v) failures or delays in obtaining desired or necessary rights, including leases and feedstock agreements; and (vi) failures or delays in obtaining and keeping in good standing permits, authorizations and consents from local city, county, state and U.S. federal governments as well as local
and U.S. federal governmental organizations. Any of these factors could prevent completion or operation of projects, or otherwise adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Acquisition, financing, construction, and development of projects by us or our partners that own projects may not commence on anticipated timelines or at all.
Our strategy is to continue to expand, including through the acquisition of additional projects and by signing additional supply agreements with third party project owner partners. From time to time we and our partners enter into nonbinding letters of intent for projects. Until the negotiations are final, however, and the parties have executed definitive documentation, we or our partners may not be able to consummate any development or acquisition transactions, or any other similar arrangements, on the terms set forth in the applicable letter of intent or at all.
The acquisition, financing, construction and development of projects involves numerous risks, including:
|●||difficulties in identifying, obtaining, and permitting suitable sites for new projects;|
|●||failure to obtain all necessary rights to land access and use;|
|●||inaccuracy of assumptions with respect to the cost and schedule for completing construction;|
|●||inaccuracy of assumptions with respect to the biogas potential, including quality, volume, and asset life;|
|●||the ability to obtain financing for a project on acceptable terms or at all;|
|●||delays in deliveries or increases in the price of equipment;|
|●||permitting and other regulatory issues, license revocation and changes in legal requirements;|
|●||increases in the cost of labor, labor disputes and work stoppages;|
|●||failure to receive quality and timely performance of third-party services;|
|●||unforeseen engineering and environmental problems;|
|●||accidents involving personal injury or the loss of life; and|
|●||weather conditions, catastrophic events, including fires, explosions, earthquakes, droughts and acts of terrorism, and other force majeure events.|
In addition, new projects have no operating history. A new project may be unable to fund principal and interest payments under its debt service obligations or may operate at a loss.
We are dependent on the production of vehicles and engines in our key customer and geographic markets by vehicle and engine manufacturers, over which we have no control.
Vehicle and engine manufacturers control the development, production, quality assurance, cost and sales and marketing of their products, which shapes the performance, availability and reputation of these products in the marketplace. We are dependent on these manufacturers to succeed in our target markets, and we have no influence or control over their activities. For example, Cummins Westport is the only engine manufacturer for the RNG and natural gas heavy-duty truck market in the United States, and Cummins Westport and other original equipment manufacturers currently produce a relatively small number of engines and vehicles that use our vehicle fuels. These manufacturers may decide not to expand or maintain, or may decide to discontinue or curtail, their engine or vehicle product lines for a variety of reasons, including as a result of the adoption of government policies or programs such as the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation and the September 2020 Executive Order, and the supply of engines or vehicle product lines by these manufacturers may also be disrupted or delayed due to delays, restrictions or other business impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The limited
production of engines and vehicles that use our fuels increases their cost and limits availability, which restricts large-scale adoption, and may reduce resale value, which may contribute to operator reluctance to convert their vehicles to our fuels. In addition, some operators have communicated to us that the first-generation models of heavy-duty truck engines using our fuels have a reputation for unsatisfactory performance, and that this reputation or their first-hand experiences of such performance may be a factor in operator decisions regarding whether to convert their fleets to vehicles that use our fuels.
To secure RNG from new projects, we typically face a long and variable development cycle that requires significant resource commitments and a long lead time before we realize revenues.
The development, design and construction process for RNG projects generally lasts between 12 to 18 months on average. Prior to entering into a letter of intent with respect to an RNG project, we typically conduct a preliminary assessment of whether the site is commercially viable based on our expected return on investment, investment payback period, and other operating metrics, as well as the necessary permits to develop a project on that site. After entering a project letter of intent, we perform a more detailed review of the site’s facilities, which serves as the basis for the final specifications of the project. Finally, we negotiate and execute contracts with the site owner. This extended development process requires the dedication of significant time and resources from our personnel, with no certainty of success or recovery of our expenses. Further, upon commencement of operations, it takes about 12 months for the project to ramp up to expected production level, receive necessary registrations and approvals from the EPA and CARB, and begin generating revenue. All these factors, and in particular, expenditures on development of projects that will not generate significant revenue in the near term, can contribute to fluctuations in our quarterly financial performance and increase the likelihood that our operating results in a particular period will fall below investor expectations.
Livestock waste and dairy farm projects have different economic models and risk profiles than landfill facilities, and we may not be able to achieve the operating results we expect from these projects.
Livestock waste and dairy farm projects produce significantly less RNG than landfill facilities. As a result, these projects are even more dependent on the LCFS credits and, to a lesser extent, RINs for commercial viability. If CARB reduces the CI score that it applies to waste conversion projects, such as dairy digesters, the number of LCFS credits for RNG generated at livestock waste and dairy farm projects will decline. Additionally, revenue from LCFS credits also depends on the price per LCFS credit, which is driven by various market forces, including the supply of and demand for LCFS credits, which in turn depends on the demand for traditional transportation fuel and the supply of renewable fuel from other renewable energy sources, and mandated CI targets, which determine the number of LCFS credits required to offset LCFS deficits, and which increase over time. Fluctuations in the price of LCFS credits or the number of LCFS credits assigned will have a significantly greater effect on the success of livestock waste and dairy farm projects. A significant decline in the value of LCFS credits adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
We have a history of losses and may incur additional losses in the future.
We incurred pre-tax losses in 2017, 2018 and 2020. During 2018, 2019 and 2020, our results were positively affected by $26.7 million, $47.1 million, and $19.8 million of AFTC revenue, respectively. We may incur losses in future periods, and we may never sustain profitability, either of which would adversely affect our business, prospects and financial condition and may cause the price of our common stock to fall. Furthermore, historical losses may not be indicative of future losses due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our future losses may be greater than our past losses. In addition, to try to achieve or sustain profitability, we may choose or be forced to take actions that result in material costs or material asset or goodwill impairments. For instance, in the third and fourth quarters of 2017, we recorded significant charges in connection with our former fueling compressor manufacturing business (which we combined with another company’s fueling compressor manufacturing business in the CEC Combination (as defined below)), our closure of certain fueling stations, our determination that certain assets were impaired because of the foregoing, and other actions. We review our assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of an asset or asset group may not be recoverable, and we perform a goodwill impairment test on an annual basis and between annual tests in certain circumstances, in each case in accordance with applicable accounting guidance and as described in the financial statements and related notes included in this report. Changes to the use of our assets, divestitures, changes to the structure of our business, significant negative industry or economic trends, disruptions to our operations, inability to effectively integrate any acquired businesses, further market capitalization declines, or other similar actions or conditions
could result in additional asset impairment or goodwill impairment charges or other adverse consequences, any of which could have material negative effects on our financial condition, our results of operations and the trading price of our common stock.
Our plans for hydrogen and electric vehicle stations will require significant cash investments and management resources and may not meet our expectations.
We believe our success is also dependent on fleets and other consumers also adopting hydrogen and electric vehicles and our ability to use our RNG to fuel or charge such vehicles. As operators deploy hydrogen powered vehicles, we plan to modify our fueling stations to reform our RNG and deliver clean hydrogen. Further, we have the capability to add electric charging at our sites, and we believe our RNG can be used to generate clean electricity to power vehicles.
Our plans will require significant cash investments and management resources and may not meet our expectations with respect to additional sales of our vehicle fuels. We have experience constructing hydrogen fueling stations, but such facilities cost significantly more than traditional RNG vehicle fueling stations. In addition, we have not yet added electric charging capability to any of our stations, and the cost of such capability may be significant. We will need to ensure compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements, including obtaining any required permits and land use rights, which could take considerable time and expense and is subject to the risk that government support in certain areas may be discontinued. If we are unable to modify our stations to provide hydrogen or add electric charging to our stations, or experience delays, our stations may be unable to meet our customer demand, which may negatively impact our business, prospects, financial condition, and operating results.
Cummins, Daimler, Dana, Navistar, PACCAR, Toyota, Volvo, XOS, Tesla and Nikola have announced their plans to bring long-haul Class 8 commercial hydrogen- and battery- powered vehicles to the market, and we believe our success is dependent on such plans coming to fruition. We will be, however, dependent on these manufacturers to succeed in our target markets, and we will have no influence over their activities. See the risks discussed under “We are dependent on the production of vehicles and engines in our key customer and geographic markets by vehicle and engine manufacturers, over which we have no control,” above and elsewhere in these risk factors.
Increases, decreases and general volatility in oil, gasoline, diesel, natural gas and RNG prices could adversely affect our business.
The prices of RNG, natural gas, crude oil, gasoline and diesel can be volatile and this volatility may continue to increase. Factors that may cause volatility in the prices of RNG, natural gas, crude oil, gasoline and diesel include, among others, changes in supply and availability of crude oil and RNG, natural gas, government regulations, inventory levels, consumer demand, price and availability of alternatives, weather conditions, negative publicity about crude oil or natural gas drilling, production or transportation techniques and methods, economic, health and political conditions, transportation costs and the price of foreign imports. Specifically, prices for crude oil, which is the commodity used to make gasoline and diesel, have been lower in recent years, due in part to over-production and increased supply without a corresponding increase in demand, and oil prices decreased further in 2020, hitting an all-time low due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If the prices of crude oil, gasoline and diesel continue to be low or decline, or if the price of RNG or natural gas increases without corresponding increases in the prices of crude oil, gasoline and diesel or Environmental Credits, then we may not be able to offer our customers an attractive price advantage for our vehicle fuels, market adoption of our vehicle fuels could be slowed or limited and/or we may be forced to reduce the prices at which we sell our vehicle fuels in order to try and attract new customers or prevent the loss of demand from existing customers. Natural gas and crude oil prices are expected to remain volatile for the near future because of market uncertainties over supply and demand, including due to the current state of the world economies, energy infrastructure and other factors. Fluctuations in natural gas prices affect the cost to us of the natural gas commodity. High natural gas prices adversely affect our operating margins when we cannot pass the increased costs through to our customers. Conversely, lower natural gas prices reduce our revenue when the commodity cost is passed through to our customers.
Pricing conditions may also exacerbate the cost differential between vehicles that use our fuels and gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles, which may lead operators to delay or refrain from purchasing or converting to our vehicle fuels. Generally, vehicles that use our fuels cost more initially than gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles because the components
needed for a vehicle to use our fuels add to the vehicle’s base cost. Operators then seek to recover the additional base cost over time through a lower cost to use our fuels. Operators may, however, perceive an inability to timely recover these additional initial costs if our vehicle fuels are not available at prices sufficiently lower than gasoline and diesel. Such an outcome could decrease our potential customer base and harm our business prospects.
We face increasing competition from a variety of businesses, many of which have far greater resources, experience, customer bases and brand awareness than we have, and we may not be able to compete effectively with these businesses.
The market for vehicle fuels is highly competitive. The biggest competition for our products is gasoline and diesel because most vehicles in our key markets are powered by these fuels. We also compete with suppliers of other alternative vehicle fuels, including renewable diesel and biodiesel, biodiesel and ethanol, as well as producers and fuelers of alternative vehicles, including hybrid, electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Additionally, our stations compete directly with other natural gas fueling stations and indirectly with electric vehicle charging stations and fueling stations for other vehicle fuels.
Many businesses are in the market for RNG and other alternatives for use as vehicle fuel, including alternative vehicle and alternative fuel companies, refuse collectors, industrial gas companies, private equity groups, commodity traders, truck stop and fuel station owners, fuel providers, gas marketers, utilities and their affiliates and other organizations. If the alternative vehicle fuel market grows, then the number and type of participants in this market and their level of capital and other commitments to alternative vehicle fuel programs could increase. Many of our competitors have substantially greater experience, customer bases, brand awareness and financial, marketing and other resources than we have. As a result, these competitors may be able to respond more quickly to changes in customer preferences, legal requirements or other industry or regulatory trends; devote greater resources to the development, promotion and sale of their products; adopt more aggressive pricing policies; dedicate more effort to infrastructure and systems development in support of their business or product development activities; implement more robust or creative initiatives to advance consumer acceptance of their products; or exert more influence on the regulatory landscape that affects the vehicle fuels market.
We expect competition to increase in the vehicle fuels market generally. In addition, if the demand for alternative vehicle fuels, including RNG, increases, then we expect competition to also increase. Any such increased competition may reduce our customer base and revenue and may lead to increased pricing pressure, reduced operating margins and fewer expansion opportunities.
NG Advantage may not be successful.
NG Advantage provides “virtual pipelines” to transport our fuels from production sites to pipeline interconnects and to transport CNG to industrial and institutional energy users that do not have direct access to pipelines. NG Advantage faces unique risks, including among others: (i) it has a history of net losses and has incurred substantial indebtedness; (ii) NG Advantage will need to raise additional capital, which may not be available, may only be available on onerous terms, or may only be available from the Company; (iii) the labor market for truck drivers is very competitive, which increases NG Advantage’s difficulty in meeting its delivery obligations; (iv) NG Advantage often transports CNG in trailers over long distances and these trailers may be involved in accidents; and (v) NG Advantage’s CNG trailers may become subject to new or changed regulations that could adversely affect its business. If NG Advantage fails to manage any of these risks, our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations, prospects and reputation may be harmed. In addition, we have been a significant source of financing for NG Advantage, consisting of loans of $12.9 million and $26.7 million in the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, and a $5.0 million equity investment in the year ended December 31, 2018. If NG Advantage is not able to obtain financing from external sources, we will need to provide additional debt or equity capital to allow NG Advantage to satisfy its commitments and maintain operations.
Our station construction activities subject us to business and operational risks.
As part of our business activities, we design and construct vehicle fueling stations that we either own and operate ourselves or sell to our customers. These activities require a significant amount of judgment in determining where to build and open fueling stations, including predictions about fuel demand that may not be accurate for any of the locations we
target. As a result, we have built stations that we may not open for fueling operations, and we may open stations that fail to generate the volume or profitability levels we anticipate, either or both of which could occur due to a lack of sufficient customer demand at the station locations or for other reasons. For any stations that are completed but unopened, we would have substantial investments in assets that do not produce revenue, and for any stations that are open and underperforming, we may decide to close the stations. We determined to close a number of underperforming stations in the third and fourth quarters of 2017 and recorded impairment charges in connection with these closures and other related actions, and any further station closures could result in substantial additional costs and non-cash asset impairments or other charges and could harm our reputation and reduce our potential customer base.
We also face many operational challenges in connection with our station design and construction activities. For example, we may not be able to identify suitable locations for the stations we or our customers seek to build. Additionally, even if preferred sites can be located, we may encounter land use or zoning difficulties, problems with utility services, challenges obtaining and retaining required permits and approvals or local resistance, including due to reduced operations of permitting agencies because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, any of which could prevent us or our customers from building new stations on these sites or limit or restrict the use of new or existing stations. Any such difficulties, resistance or limitations or any failure to comply with local permit, land use or zoning requirements could restrict our activities or expose us to fines, reputational damage or other liabilities, which would harm our business and results of operations. In addition, we act as the general contractor and construction manager for new station construction and facility modification projects, and we typically rely on licensed subcontractors to perform the construction work. We may be liable for any damage we or our subcontractors cause or for injuries suffered by our employees or our subcontractors’ employees during the course of work on our projects. Additionally, shortages of skilled subcontractor labor could significantly delay a project or otherwise increase our costs. Further, our expected profit from a project is based in part on assumptions about the cost of the project, and cost overruns, delays or other execution issues may, in the case of projects we complete and sell to customers, result in our failure to achieve our expected margins or cover our costs, and in the case of projects we build and own, result in our failure to achieve an acceptable rate of return. If any of these events occur, our business, operating results and liquidity could be negatively affected.
We have significant contracts with government entities, which are subject to unique risks.
We have, and expect to continue to seek, long-term fueling station construction, maintenance and fuel sale contracts with various government bodies, which accounted for 22%, 21% and 22% of our revenue in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. In addition to normal business risks, including the other risks discussed in these risk factors, our contracts with government entities are often subject to unique risks, some of which are beyond our control. For example, long-term government contracts and related orders are subject to cancellation if adequate appropriations for subsequent performance periods are not made. Further, the termination of funding for a government program supporting any of our government contracts could result in the loss of anticipated future revenue attributable to the contract. Moreover, government entities with which we contract are often able to modify, curtail or terminate contracts with us at their convenience and without prior notice, and would only be required to pay for work completed and commitments made at or prior to the time of termination.
In addition, government contracts are frequently awarded only after competitive bidding processes, which are often protracted. In many cases, unsuccessful bidders for government contracts are provided the opportunity to formally protest the contract awards through various agencies or other administrative and judicial channels. The protest process may substantially delay a successful bidder’s contract performance, result in cancellation of the contract award entirely and distract management. As a result, we may not be awarded contracts for which we bid, and substantial delays or cancellation of contracts may follow any successful bids as a result of any protests by other bidders. The occurrence of any of these risks would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
We may from time to time pursue acquisitions, divestitures, investments or other strategic relationships or transactions, which could fail to meet expectations or otherwise harm our business.
We may acquire or invest in other companies or businesses or pursue other strategic transactions or relationships, such as joint ventures, collaborations, divestitures, or other similar arrangements. For example, in March 2021 we entered into joint ventures with each of Total and bp to develop and own dairy RNG production projects. These strategic transactions
and relationships and any others we may pursue in the future involve numerous risks, any of which could harm our business, performance and liquidity, including, among others, the following: (i) difficulties integrating the operations, personnel, contracts, service providers and technologies of an acquired company or partner; (ii) diversion of financial and management resources from existing operations or alternative acquisition, investment, strategic or other opportunities; (iii) failure to realize the anticipated synergies or other benefits of a transaction or relationship; (iv) risks of entering new customer or geographic markets in which we may have limited or no experience; (v) potential loss of an acquired company’s or partner’s key employees, customers or vendors in the event of an acquisition or investment, or potential loss of our assets (and their associated revenue streams), employees or customers in the event of a divestiture or other strategic transaction; and (vi) incurrence of substantial costs or debt or equity dilution to fund an acquisition, investment or other transaction or relationship, as well as possible write-offs or impairment charges relating to any businesses we partner with, invest in or acquire.
Our partners may choose to invest in renewable vehicle fuels other than RNG.
Our partners, including Total, bp and Chevron, may reallocate their resources from RNG to other renewable vehicle fuels. Any such action would have a material adverse effect on our plans, results of operations and financial condition.
Our results of operations fluctuate significantly and are difficult to predict.
Our results of operations have historically experienced, and may continue to experience, significant fluctuations as a result of a variety of factors, including, among others, the amount and timing of our vehicle fuel sales, station construction sales, sales of Environmental Credits and recognition of government credits, grants and incentives, such as AFTC (for example, we recorded all of the AFTC revenue associated with our vehicle fuel sales made in 2017 during the first quarter of 2018, and we recorded all of the AFTC revenue associated with our vehicles fuel sales made in 2018 and 2019 in the fourth quarter of 2019); fluctuations in commodity, station construction and labor costs; variations in the fair value of certain of our derivative instruments that are recorded in revenue; sales of compressors and other equipment used in RNG production and at fueling stations; the amount and timing of our billing, collections and liability payments; and the other factors described in these risk factors.
Our performance in certain periods has also been affected by transactions or events that have resulted in significant cash or non-cash gains or losses. For example, our results for 2017 were positively affected by gains related to repurchases or retirements of our outstanding convertible debt at a discount and by a gain related to the bp Transaction (as such term is defined below), but were also negatively affected by significant charges in connection with our closure of certain fueling stations, the decreased operating performance of our former fueling compressor manufacturing business, our determination of an impairment of assets as a result of the foregoing, and certain other actions. These or other similar gains or losses may not recur regularly, in the same amounts or at all in future periods.
These significant fluctuations in our operating results may render period-to-period comparisons less meaningful, especially given the current uncertainties related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and investors in our securities should not rely on the results of one period as an indicator of performance in any other period. Additionally, these fluctuations in our operating results could cause our performance in any period to fall below the financial guidance we may have provided to the public or the estimates and projections of the investment community, which could negatively affect the price of our common stock.
Our warranty reserves may not adequately cover our warranty obligations, which could result in unexpected costs.
We provide product warranties with varying terms and durations for the stations we build and sell, and we establish reserves for the estimated liability associated with these warranties. Our warranty reserves are based on historical trends and any specifically identified warranty issues known to us, and the amounts estimated for these reserves could differ materially from the warranty costs we may actually incur. We would be adversely affected by an increase in the rate or volume of warranty claims or the amounts involved in warranty claims, any of which could increase our costs beyond our established reserves and cause our cash position and financial condition to suffer.
Risks Related to Our Indebtedness and Other Capital Resources.
We may need to raise additional capital to continue to fund our business, which could have negative effects and may not be available when needed, on acceptable terms or at all.
We require capital to pay for capital expenditures, operating expenses, any mergers, acquisitions or strategic investments, transactions or relationships we may pursue, and to make principal and interest payments on our indebtedness. If we cannot fund any of these activities with capital on-hand or cash provided by our operations, we may seek to obtain additional capital from other sources, such as by selling assets or pursuing debt or equity financing.
Asset sales and equity or debt financing may not be available when needed, on terms favorable to us or at all. Any sale of our assets to generate cash proceeds may limit our operational capacity and could limit or eliminate any revenue streams or business plans that are dependent on the sold assets. Any issuances of our common stock or securities convertible into our common stock to raise capital would dilute the ownership interest of our existing stockholders. Any debt financing we may pursue could require us to make significant interest or other payments and to pledge some or all of our assets as security. In addition, higher levels of indebtedness could increase our risk of non-repayment, adversely affect our creditworthiness, and amplify the other risks associated with our existing debt, which are discussed elsewhere in these risk factors. Further, we may incur substantial costs in pursuing any capital-raising transactions, including investment banking, legal and accounting fees. On the other hand, if we are unable to obtain capital in amounts sufficient to fund our obligations, expenses, and strategic initiatives, we could be forced to suspend, delay or curtail our business plans or operating activities or could default on our contractual commitments. Any such outcome could negatively affect our business, performance, liquidity, and prospects.
We may not generate sufficient cash flow from our business to pay our debt.
As of December 31, 2020, we have consolidated indebtedness of $89.2 million (including the $50.0 million bp loan described in this report), and we are permitted to incur significant additional debt. Our outstanding and permitted indebtedness could make us more vulnerable to adverse changes in general U.S. and worldwide economic, regulatory, and competitive conditions, limit our flexibility to plan for or react to changes in our business or industry, place us at a disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt or limit our ability to borrow or otherwise raise additional capital as needed.
Our payments of amounts owed under our various debt instruments will reduce our cash resources available for other purposes, including pursuing strategic initiatives, transactions or other opportunities, satisfying our other commitments and generally supporting our operations. Moreover, our ability to make these payments depends on our future performance, which is subject to economic, financial, competitive and other factors, including those described in these risk factors, and many of which are beyond our control. Our business may not generate sufficient cash from operations to service our debt.
If we cannot meet our debt obligations from our operating cash flows, we may pursue one or more alternative measures. Any repayment of our debt with equity, however, would dilute the ownership interests of our existing stockholders. Additionally, because the agreements governing much of our existing indebtedness contain minimal restrictions on our ability to incur additional debt and do not require us to maintain financial ratios or specified levels of net worth or liquidity, we may seek capital from other sources to service our debt, such as selling assets, restructuring or refinancing our existing debt or obtaining additional equity or debt financing. Our ability to engage in any of these activities, if we decide to do so, would depend on the capital markets and the state of our industry, business and financial condition at the time, and could also subject us to significant risks, which are discussed elsewhere in these risk factors. Moreover, we may not be able to obtain any additional capital we may pursue on desirable terms, at a desirable time or at all. Any failure to pay our debts when due could result in a default on our debt obligations. In addition, certain of our debt agreements contain restrictive covenants, and any failure by us to comply with these covenants could also cause us to be in default under these agreements.
In the event of any default on our debt obligations, the holders of the indebtedness could, among other things, declare all amounts owed immediately due and payable. Any such declaration could deplete all or a large portion of our available
cash flow, and thereby reduce the amount of cash available to pursue our business plans or force us into bankruptcy or liquidation.
Risks Related to Environmental Health and Safety and Governmental and Environmental Regulations
Our business is influenced by environmental, tax and other government regulations, programs and incentives that promote our vehicle fuels, and their adoption, modification or repeal could negatively affect our business.
Our business is influenced by federal, state, and local tax credits, rebates, grants and other government programs and incentives that promote the use of our vehicle fuels. These include various government programs that make grant funds available for the purchase of vehicles and construction of fueling stations, as well as the AFTC under which we generate revenue for our vehicle fuel sales. The AFTC currently expires at the end of 2021. If the AFTC is not extended after 2021, including if other legislative priorities result in insufficient focus on this program during upcoming congressional sessions, the AFTC would not be available for vehicle fuel sales, and our revenue would be materially adversely affected. Additionally, our business is influenced by laws, rules and regulations that require reductions in carbon emissions and/or the use of renewable fuels, such as the programs under which we generate Environmental Credits.
These programs and regulations, which have the effect of encouraging the use of RNG as a vehicle fuel, could expire or be repealed or amended for a variety of reasons. For example, parties with an interest in gasoline and diesel, electric or other alternative vehicles or vehicle fuels, including lawmakers, regulators, policymakers, environmental or advocacy organizations, producers of alternative vehicles or vehicle fuels, or other powerful groups, may invest significant time and money in efforts to delay, repeal or otherwise negatively influence regulations and programs that promote RNG. Many of these parties have substantially greater resources and influence than we have. Further, changes in federal, state or local political, social or economic conditions, including a lack of legislative focus on these programs and regulations, could result in their modification, delayed adoption or repeal. Any failure to adopt, delay in implementing, expiration, repeal or modification of these programs and regulations, or the adoption of any programs or regulations that encourage the use of other alternative fuels or alternative vehicles over RNG, would reduce the market for RNG as a vehicle fuel and harm our operating results, liquidity, and financial condition.
For instance, California lawmakers and regulators have implemented various measures designed to increase the use of electric, hydrogen and other zero-emission vehicles, including establishing firm goals for the number of these vehicles operating on state roads by specified dates and enacting various laws and other programs in support of these goals. Although the influence and applicability of these or similar measures on our business remains uncertain, a focus on “zero tailpipe emissions” vehicles over vehicles with an overall net carbon negative emissions profile, but with some tailpipe emissions operating on RNG, could adversely affect the market for our fuels.
To benefit from Environmental Credits, RNG projects are required to be registered and are subject to audit.
RNG projects are required to register with the EPA and relevant state regulatory agencies. Further, we qualify our RINs through a voluntary Quality Assurance Plan, which typically takes from three to five months from first injection of RNG into the commercial pipeline system. Delays in obtaining registration, RIN qualification, and any LCFS credit qualification of a new project could delay future revenues from a project and could adversely affect our cash flow. Further, we may make large investments in projects prior to receiving the regulatory approval and RIN qualification. By registering RNG projects with the EPA’s voluntary Quality Assurance Plan, we are subject to quarterly third-party audits and semi-annual on-site visits of projects to validate generated RINs and overall compliance with the RFS program. We are also subject to a separate third party’s annual attestation review. The Quality Assurance Plan provides a process for RIN owners to follow, for an affirmative defense to civil liability, if used or transferred Quality Assurance Plan verified RINs were invalidly generated. A project’s failure to comply could result in remedial action by the EPA, including penalties, fines, retirement of RINs, or termination of the project’s registration, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our business could be negatively affected by federal or state laws or regulations mandating new or additional limits on GHG emissions, “tailpipe” emissions or internal combustion engines.
Federal or state laws or regulations have been adopted, such as California’s AB 32 cap and trade law, and may be adopted that impose limits on GHG emissions. The effects of GHG emission limits on our business are subject to significant uncertainties based on, among other things, the timing of any requirements, the required levels of emission reductions, the nature of any market-based or tax-based mechanisms adopted to facilitate reductions, the relative availability of GHG emission reduction offsets, the development of cost-effective, commercial-scale carbon capture and storage technology and supporting regulations and liability mitigation measures, the range of available compliance alternatives, and our ability to demonstrate that our vehicle fuels qualify as a compliance alternative under any statutory or regulatory programs to limit GHG emissions. If our vehicle fuels are not able to meet GHG emission limits or perform as well as other alternative fuels and vehicles, our solutions could be less competitive. Furthermore, additional federal or state taxes could be implemented on “tailpipe” emissions, which would have a negative impact on the cost of our vehicle fuels, as compared to vehicle fuels that do not generate tailpipe emissions. See also the discussion above regarding the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation and the September 2020 Executive Order under “Our success is dependent on the willingness of fleets and other consumers to adopt our vehicle fuels, which may not occur in a timely manner, at expected levels or at all.”
Our business is subject to a variety of government regulations, which may restrict our operations and result in costs and penalties or otherwise adversely affect our business and ability to compete.
We are subject to a variety of federal, state and local laws and regulations relating to the environment, health and safety, labor and employment, building codes and construction, zoning and land use, the government procurement process, any political activities or lobbying in which we may engage, public reporting and taxation, among others. It is difficult and costly to manage the requirements of every authority having jurisdiction over our various activities and to comply with their varying standards. Many of these laws and regulations are complex, change frequently, may be unclear and difficult to interpret and have become more stringent over time. Any changes to existing regulations or adoption of new regulations may result in significant additional expense to us or our customers. For example, in June 2020, California passed the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation, which seeks to have all new commercial vehicles sold in California have zero-emissions by 2045, and in September 2020, California’s Governor issued the September 2020 Executive Order, which seeks to have 100% of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in California be zero emission by 2045. Further, from time to time, as part of the regular evaluation of our operations, including newly acquired or developing operations, we may be subject to compliance audits by regulatory authorities, which may distract management from our revenue-generating activities and involve significant costs and use of other resources. Also, we often need to obtain facility permits or licenses to address, among other things, storm water or wastewater discharges, waste handling and air emissions in connection with our operations, which may subject us to onerous or costly permitting conditions or delays if permits cannot be timely obtained. Our failure to comply with any applicable laws and regulations could result in a variety of administrative, civil and criminal enforcement measures, including, among others, assessment of monetary penalties, imposition of corrective requirements or prohibition from providing services to government entities. If any of these enforcement measures were imposed on us, our business, financial condition, and performance could be negatively affected.
We are subject to various environmental laws and regulations that could impose substantial costs upon us.
Our operations are and will be subject to federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations, including laws relating to the use, handling, storage, disposal of and human exposure to hazardous materials. Moreover, we expect that we will be affected by future amendments to such laws or other new environmental and health and safety laws and regulations which may require us to change our operations, potentially resulting in a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, and operating results. These laws can give rise to liability for administrative oversight costs, cleanup costs, property damage, bodily injury, fines, and penalties. Capital and operating expenses needed to comply with environmental laws and regulations can be significant, and violations may result in substantial fines and penalties, third-party damages, suspension of production or a cessation of our operations.
Contamination at properties we own or operate, will own or operate, or formerly owned or operated or to which hazardous substances were sent by us, may result in liability for us under environmental laws and regulations, including,
but not limited to, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, which can impose liability for the full amount of remediation-related costs without regard to fault, for the investigation and cleanup of contaminated soil and ground water, for impacts to human health and for damages to natural resources. The costs of complying with environmental laws and regulations and any claims concerning noncompliance, or liability with respect to contamination in the future, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or operating results. We may face unexpected delays in obtaining the required permits and approvals in connection with our planned RNG production facilities that could require significant time and financial resources and delay our ability to operate these facilities, which would adversely impact our business, prospects, financial condition and operating results.
Our operations entail inherent safety and environmental risks, which may result in substantial liability to us.
Our operations entail inherent safety risks, including risks associated with equipment defects, malfunctions, failures, and misuses. For example, operation of LNG pumps requires special training because of the extremely low temperatures of LNG. Also, LNG tanker trailers and CNG fuel tanks and trailers could rupture if involved in accidents or improper maintenance or installation. Further, improper refueling of vehicles that use our fuels or operation of vehicle fueling stations could result in sudden releases of pressure that could cause explosions. In addition, our operations may result in the venting of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. These safety and environmental risks could result in uncontrollable flows of our fuels, fires, explosions, death, or serious injury, any of which may expose us to liability for personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, pollution and other environmental damage. We may incur substantial liability and costs if any such damages are not covered by insurance or are more than policy limits, or if environmental damage causes us to violate applicable greenhouse gas emissions or other environmental laws. Additionally, the occurrence of any of these events with respect to our fueling stations or our other operations could materially harm our business and reputation. Moreover, the occurrence of any of these events to any other organization in our vehicle fuel business could harm our industry generally by negatively affecting perceptions about, and adoption levels of, our vehicle fuels.
Risks Related to Our Common Stock
A significant portion of our common stock is beneficially owned by a single stockholder that may have interests that differ from yours and that is able to exert significant influence over our corporate decisions, including a change of control.
Following our issuance and sale of our common stock to Total Marketing Services, S.E. (“TMS”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Total, in June 2018, Total beneficially owned 25.6% of our outstanding shares of common stock as of December 31, 2020, which represents the largest ownership position among stockholders of our Company. In addition, Total was granted certain special rights that our other stockholders do not have in connection with its acquisition of this ownership position, including the right to designate two individuals to serve as directors of our Company and a third individual to serve as an observer on certain of our board committees. Total or other large stockholders may be able to influence or control matters requiring approval by our stockholders, including the election of directors and mergers, acquisitions, or other extraordinary transactions. Total, however, may have interests that differ from yours and may vote or otherwise act in ways with which you disagree or that may be adverse to your interests. A concentration of stock ownership may also have the effect of delaying, preventing or deterring a change of control of our Company, which could deprive our stockholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their shares of our common stock as part of a sale of our Company and could affect the market price of our common stock. Conversely, such a concentration of stock ownership may facilitate a change of control under terms you and other stockholders may not find favorable or at a time when you and other stockholders may prefer not to sell.
Sales of our common stock, or the perception that such sales may occur, could cause the market price of our stock to drop significantly, regardless of the state of our business.
All outstanding shares of our common stock are eligible for sale in the public market, subject in certain cases to the requirements of Rule 144 under the Securities Act. Also, shares of our common stock that may be issued upon the exercise, vesting or conversion of our outstanding stock options and restricted stock units may be eligible for sale in the public market, to the extent permitted by Rule 144 and the provisions of the applicable stock option and restricted stock unit agreements or if such shares have been registered under the Securities Act. For instance, we filed a registration statement
with the SEC to cover the resale of the 50,856,296 shares of our common stock issued and sold to TMS, which registration statement was declared effective in August 2018. If these shares are sold, or if it is perceived that they may be sold, in the public market, the trading price of our common stock could decline.
General Risk Factors
We rely on information technology in our operations, and any material failure, inadequacy, interruption, or security failure of that technology could harm our business.
Increased global IT security threats and more sophisticated and targeted computer crime pose a risk to the security of our systems and networks and the confidentiality, availability and integrity of our data. There have been several recent, highly publicized cases in which organizations of various types and sizes have reported the unauthorized disclosure of customer or other confidential information, as well as cyberattacks involving the dissemination, theft and destruction of corporate information, intellectual property, cash or other valuable assets. There have also been several highly publicized cases in which hackers have requested “ransom” payments in exchange for not disclosing customer or other confidential information or for not disabling the target company’s computer or other systems. Implementing security measures designed to prevent, detect, mitigate or correct these or other IT security threats involves significant costs. Although we have taken steps to protect the security of our information systems and the data maintained in those systems, we have, from time to time, experienced threats to our data and systems, including malware and computer virus attacks and it is possible that in the future our safety and security measures will not prevent the systems’ improper functioning or damage, or the improper access or disclosure of personally identifiable information such as in the event of cyberattacks. Any IT security threats that are successful against our security measures could, depending on their nature and scope, lead to the compromise of confidential information, improper use of our systems and networks, manipulation and destruction of data, operational disruptions, and substantial financial outlays. Further, a cyberattack could occur and persist for an extended period of time without detection, and an investigation of any successful cyberattack would likely require significant time, costs and other resources to complete. We may be required to expend significant financial resources to protect against or to remediate such cyberattacks. In addition, our technology infrastructure and information systems are vulnerable to damage or interruption from natural disasters, power loss and telecommunications failures. Any failure to maintain proper function, security and availability of our information systems and the data maintained in those systems could interrupt our operations, damage our reputation, subject us to liability claims or regulatory penalties, harm our business relationships or increase our security and insurance costs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The price of our common stock may continue to fluctuate significantly, and you could lose all or part of your investment.
The market price of our common stock has experienced, and may continue to experience, significant volatility. Factors that may cause volatility in the price of our common stock, many of which are beyond our control, include, among others, the following: (i) the factors that may influence the adoption of our vehicle fuels, as discussed elsewhere in these risk factors; (ii) our ability to implement our business plans and initiatives and their anticipated, perceived or actual level of success; (iii) failure to meet or exceed any financial guidance we have provided to the public or the estimates and projections of the investment community; (iv) the market’s perception of the success and importance of any of our acquisitions, divestitures, investments or other strategic relationships or transactions; (v) the amount of and timing of sales of, and prices for, Environmental Credits; (vi) actions taken by state or federal governments to mandate or otherwise promote or incentivize alternative vehicles or vehicle fuels over, or to the exclusion of, RNG; (vii) changes in political, regulatory, health, economic and market conditions; and (viii) a change in the trading volume of our common stock.
In addition, the securities markets have from time-to-time experienced significant price and volume fluctuations that are unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies, but which have affected the market prices of these companies’ securities. These market fluctuations may also materially and adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
Volatility or declines in the market price of our common stock could have other negative consequences, including, among others, further impairments to our assets (following the asset impairment charges we recorded in the third and
fourth quarters of 2017 related to our former fueling compressor manufacturing business and our closure of certain fueling stations), potential impairments to our goodwill and a reduced ability to use our common stock for capital-raising, acquisitions or other purposes. The occurrence of any of these risks could materially and adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations and liquidity and could cause further declines in the market price of our common stock.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.
Item 2. Properties.
Our corporate headquarters are located at 4675 MacArthur Court, Suite 800, Newport Beach, California 92660, where we occupy approximately 48,000 square feet of office space. Our lease for this facility expires in June 2021.
We own and operate the Boron Plant in Boron, California, approximately 125 miles from Los Angeles. In November 2006, we entered into a 30-year ground lease for the 36 acres on which this plant is situated.
We own and operate the Pickens Plant located in Willis, Texas, approximately 50 miles north of Houston. We own approximately 24 acres of land on which this plant is situated, along with approximately 34 acres surrounding the plant.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings.
From time to time, we may become involved in various legal proceedings that arise in the ordinary course of our business, including lawsuits, claims, audits, government enforcement actions and related matters. It is not possible to predict when or if these proceedings may arise, nor is it possible to predict the outcome of any proceedings that do arise, including, among other things, the amount or timing of any liabilities we may incur, and any such proceedings could have a material effect on us regardless of outcome. In the opinion of management, however, we are not a party, and our properties are not subject, to any pending legal proceedings that are material to us.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.
Our common stock trades on The Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “CLNE.”
There were approximately 45 holders of record of our common stock as of March 3, 2021.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
On March 12, 2020, our Board of Directors approved a share repurchase program of up to $30.0 million (exclusive of fees and commissions) of our outstanding common stock (the “Repurchase Program”). The Repurchase Program does not have an expiration date, and may be suspended or discontinued at any time.
The Repurchase Program does not obligate us to acquire any specific number of shares. Repurchases under the Repurchase Program may be effected from time to time through open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions, structured or derivative transactions, including accelerated share repurchase transactions, or other methods of acquiring shares, in each case subject to market conditions, applicable securities laws and other relevant factors. Repurchases may also be made under plans set up pursuant to Rule 10b5-1 promulgated under the Exchange Act (“Rule 10b5-1 plans”).
The following table summarizes the Company’s share repurchase activity during the three months ended December 31, 2020 (in thousands, except share and per share amounts):
Total Number of
of Shares That
May Yet Be
as Part of Publicly
Under the Plans
per Share (a)
October 1, 2020 through October 31, 2020
November 1, 2020 through November 30, 2020
December 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020
(a) Exclusive of fees and commissions.
This performance graph shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or “filed” with the SEC or subject to Regulation 14A or 14C or to the liabilities of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, or incorporated by reference into any filing under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, except to the extent that we specifically request that such information be treated as soliciting material or specifically incorporate it by reference into such a filing. The graph is required by applicable rules of the SEC and is not intended to forecast, predict or be indicative of the possible future performance of our common stock.
The following graph compares the five-year total return to holders of our common stock relative to the cumulative total returns of the Nasdaq Global Market Index and the Russell 2000 Index. The graph assumes that $100 was invested in our common stock and in each of these indices at the close of market on December 31, 2015 (the last trading day before the beginning of our fifth preceding fiscal year). We chose to include the Russell 2000 Index because it includes issuers
with similar market capitalizations as us and due to the lack of a comparable industry or line-of-business index or peer group, as we are the only actively traded public company whose only line of business is to sell natural gas for use as a vehicle fuel and the associated equipment and services necessary to use natural gas as a vehicle fuel.
Item 6. (Reserved).
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
The following Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (this discussion, as well as discussions under the same heading in our other periodic reports, are referred to as the “MD&A”) should be read together with our audited consolidated financial statements and the related notes included in this report, and all cross references to notes included in this MD&A refer to the identified note in such consolidated financial statements. This section of the Form 10-K generally discusses 2020 and 2019 items and year-to-year comparisons of 2020 to 2019. Discussions of 2018 items and year-to-year comparisons of 2019 and 2018 that are not included in this Form 10-K can be found in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Part II, Item 7 of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, filed with the SEC on March 10, 2020.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This MD&A contains forward-looking statements. See the discussion about these statements under “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” at the beginning of this report.
We are North America’s leading provider of the cleanest fuel for the transportation market, based on the number of stations operated and the amount of GGEs of RNG and conventional natural gas delivered. Through our sales of RNG, which is derived from biogenic methane produced by the breakdown of organic waste, we help thousands of vehicles, from airport shuttles to city buses to waste and heavy-duty trucks, to reduce their amount of climate-harming greenhouse gas from 60% and to over 400% based on CARB determinations, depending on the source of the RNG, while also reducing criteria pollutants such as Oxides of Nitrogen, or NOx. RNG is delivered as CNG and LNG. Our sales of RNG have
increased dramatically, from 13.0 million GGEs in 2013 (the year we introduced our RNG to the vehicle fuel market) to 153.3 million GGEs in 2020.
As a clean energy solutions provider, we supply RNG and conventional natural gas, in the form of CNG and LNG, for medium and heavy-duty vehicles; design and build, as well as operate and maintain, public and private fueling stations; sell and service compressors and other equipment used in RNG production and at fueling stations; transport and sell RNG and conventional natural gas via “virtual” natural gas pipelines and interconnects; sell Environmental Credits we generate by selling RNG as a vehicle fuel; and obtain federal, state and local tax credits, grants and incentives.
We serve fleet vehicle operators in a variety of markets, including heavy-duty trucking, airports, refuse and public transit. We believe these fleet markets will continue to present a growth opportunity for our vehicle fuels for the foreseeable future. As of December 31, 2020, we serve over 1,000 fleet customers operating over 48,000 vehicles, and we own, operate or supply 565 fueling stations in 39 states and the District of Columbia in the United States and five provinces in Canada.
Impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted, and is likely to continue to result, in significant economic disruption and has adversely affected and will likely continue to adversely affect our business. Our operations have been designated “essential critical infrastructure work” in the energy sector by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, meaning that we have been able to continue operating to the fullest extent possible. While continuing our business operations, we are focused on protecting the health and wellbeing of our employees, customers and the communities in which we operate. Except as described herein, the COVID-19 pandemic has not resulted in any adverse effects to our operations, including financial reporting systems, internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. Additionally, our technicians and O&M services continued to operate effectively, and we believe our supply chain has not been disrupted. All of our natural gas fueling stations have remained fully operational during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to provide access to customers--many that are supplying essential services. Further, we have not experienced any challenges implementing business continuity plans and have not incurred, and do not expect to incur, material expenditures related to the same.
We have adopted and applied protocols and procedures in accordance with federal, state and local government policies and mandates and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for our offices. Specifically, we have implemented enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols and procedures like temperature and COVID-19 screening questionnaires for the health and safety of our employees, customers and the communities in which we operate. We have provided personal protective equipment (including masks and gloves) and hand sanitizer, we have modified office seating, we expect all our employees to maintain appropriate physical distancing, and we continue to restrict employee travel in accordance with the various state health orders.
We began to see the negative effects of COVID-19 on volumes delivered in mid-March 2020 and continued to see declines in volumes delivered through December 31, 2020, as compared to the respective periods in 2019. We saw our volumes bottom in the second quarter of 2020 and have since seen improvement in volumes as volumes delivered for the fourth quarter of 2020 increased 7% over the second quarter of 2020. While volumes delivered in December 2020 were 2% lower compared to December 2019, this decline was lower than the decline of 4% when comparing September 2020 to September 2019. The most significant negative effects of COVID-19 in relation to our volumes continue to be seen in the airports (fleet services) and public transit customer markets, which were down by between 15% and 32% during the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the comparable 2019 period due to federal, state and local government mandates to restrict normal daily activities, as well as travel bans, quarantines and “shelter-in-place” orders, with growth in the refuse market in the three months ended December 31, 2020 from the three months ended December 31, 2019, where demand continues to be strong. Although many of these restrictions have been lifted or scaled back in recent months, the continued prevalence of COVID-19 in certain areas has resulted in the re-imposition of certain restrictions and may lead to other restrictions being re-implemented in response to efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These measures, which may remain in place for a significant amount of time, may further adversely affect airports, public transit and government fleet customer markets.
Our volume of GGEs delivered for the year ended December 31, 2020 declined 5% compared to the prior year.
Although we are experiencing gradual improvements since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no guarantee this will continue due to uncertainties regarding the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are projecting growth in volumes for 2021 compared to 2020; however, it is possible that the prolonged effect of the COVID-19 pandemic could negatively affect our future volumes. Declines in volume have resulted and could continue to result in lower gross margin dollars year-over-year and likely a lower gross margin per GGE due to lower output on fixed operating costs and the effect of less revenue from Environmental Credits. Lower volumes have affected and may continue to affect our AFTC revenue as a portion of the decline in volume is from AFTC-eligible volumes. We continue to experience lower operating expenses, which has helped mitigate the lower gross profit margins from lower volumes, and we have benefitted from other gains on station asset disposals. Given the dynamic nature of these circumstances, significant uncertainty exists concerning the duration of business disruption and the full extent of the effect of COVID-19 on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Additionally, the effects of COVID-19, low oil prices and the adoption of government policies and programs, or increased popular sentiment, in favor of other vehicle technologies or fuels may delay adoption of natural gas vehicles, particularly heavy-duty natural gas trucks, by new or existing customers. For more information, see “Risk Factors” in Part II, Item 1A of this report.
We believe we have sufficient liquidity to support business operations through this volatile period, including total cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments of $138.5 million as of December 31, 2020. We will also collect receivables related to the 2020 and 2021 AFTC revenue in 2021 and the first half of 2022; we expect AFTC revenue to be approximately $20 million for 2021 giving consideration to the effect of COVID-19 described above. As of December 31, 2020, we had $4.4 million of current debt. In addition, actions we have taken and are continuing to take have reduced costs and spending across our organization. This includes limiting travel, reducing hiring activities and limiting discretionary spending. Additionally, we could suspend, or limit repurchases under, the Repurchase Program, which was authorized for up to $30.0 million and of which $14.5 million, excluding fees and commissions, had been spent through December 31, 2020. We have not repurchased any shares under the Repurchase Program in 2021.
This performance overview discusses matters on which our management focuses in evaluating our financial condition and operating results.
Sources of Revenue
The following table represents our sources of revenue:
Year Ended December 31,
Revenue (in millions)
Station construction sales
|(1)||Our volume-related revenue primarily consists of sales of RNG and conventional natural gas, in the form of CNG and LNG, performance of O&M services, and sales of RINs and LCFS Credits in addition to changes in fair value of our derivative instruments. More information about our volume of fuel and O&M services delivered in the periods is included below under “Key Operating Data,” and more information about our derivative instruments, which consist of commodity swap and customer fueling contracts, is included below under “2018-2020 Developments.” Additionally,|
|a discussion of volume-related revenue is included below under “Results of Operations.” The following table summarizes our volume-related revenue in the periods:|
Year Ended December 31,
Revenue (in millions)
Fuel sales and performance of O&M services
Change in fair value of derivative instruments (a)
Total volume-related revenue
|a.||The change in fair value of derivative instruments is related to the Company’s commodity swap and customer fueling contracts. The amounts are classified as revenue because the Company’s commodity swap contracts are used to economically offset the risk associated with the diesel-to-natural gas price spread resulting from customer fueling contracts under the Company’s Zero Now truck financing program.|
|(2)||Represents the federal alternative fuel tax credit, that we refer to as AFTC, which expired on December 31, 2016, but in February 2018, was reinstated for vehicle fuel sales made in 2017. In December 2019, the AFTC was reinstated retroactively for vehicle fuels sales made in 2018 through 2020. See “2018-2020 Developments” below for more information.|
Key Operating Data
In evaluating our operating performance, our management focuses primarily on: (1) the amount of RNG, CNG and LNG GGEs delivered (which we define as (i) the volume of GGEs we sell to our customers as fuel, plus (ii) the volume of GGEs dispensed at facilities we do not own but where we provide O&M services on a per-gallon or fixed fee basis, plus (iii) our proportionate share of the GGEs sold as CNG by our joint venture with Mansfield Ventures, LLC, Mansfield Clean Energy Partners, LLC (“MCEP”), (2) our station construction cost of sales, (3) our gross margin (which we define as revenue minus cost of sales), and (4) net income (loss) attributable to us. The following tables present our key operating data for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020:
Year Ended December 31,
Gasoline gallon equivalents delivered (in millions)
RNG sold as vehicle fuel is included in the CNG or LNG amounts in the table above as applicable based on the form in which it was sold. GGEs of RNG sold as vehicle fuel for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, were as follows:
Year Ended December 31,
Gasoline gallon equivalents of RNG delivered (in millions)
Year Ended December 31,
Gasoline gallon equivalents delivered (in millions)
Fuel and O&M services (2)
RNG sold as vehicle fuel is included in the table above as applicable based on the services provided. GGEs of RNG sold as vehicle fuel for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, were as follows:
Year Ended December 31,
Gasoline gallon equivalents of RNG delivered (in millions)
Fuel and O&M services (2)
Year Ended December 31,
Other operating data (in millions)
Station construction cost of sales
Gross margin (3) (4)
Net income (loss) attributable to Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (3)
|(1)||As noted above, amounts include our proportionate share of the GGEs sold as CNG by our joint venture MCEP. GGEs sold by this joint venture were 0.5 million, 0.4 million and 0.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.|
|(2)||Represents GGEs at stations where we provide both fuel and O&M services.|
|(3)||Includes $26.7 million, $47.1 million and $19.8 million of AFTC revenue for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019, and 2020, respectively.|
|(4)||Gross margin includes an unrealized gain (loss) from the change in fair value of commodity swap and customer fueling contracts of $10.3 million, $(6.6) million and $2.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. See Note 7 for more information regarding the commodity swap and customer contracts.|
2018 -2020 Developments
Total Joint Venture. On December 21, 2020, we announced a memorandum of understanding with Total to create a joint venture to develop carbon negative RNG production facilities in the United States, as well as credit support to build additional downstream RNG infrastructure. Total will provide $50.0 million, and we will provide $30.0 million for the proposed joint venture. Total will also be providing credit support of $65.0 million to support our development in the RNG value chain, including $45.0 million for contracted RNG fueling infrastructure.
bp Joint Venture. On December 18, 2020, we entered a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with bp Products North America Inc, a subsidiary of bp. Pursuant to the MOU the Company and bp intend to create a joint venture to develop, own, and operate RNG production facilities at dairies. Contemporaneous with the execution of the MOU, the Company and bp executed a loan agreement whereby bp advanced $50.0 million (in the form of a loan) to fund capital costs and expenses incurred prior to formation of the joint venture. We expect that all unpaid principal and accrued interest outstanding under the loan agreement will be contributed to the joint venture, provided that if the joint venture is not formed by April 30, 2022 the Company is obligated to repay the outstanding principal and accrued interest within five days of April 30, 2022.
Chevron Adopt-a-Port. In June 2020, we entered into an agreement with Chevron Corp. (“Chevron”) to provide truck operators serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with cleaner, carbon negative RNG to reduce emissions. Under the agreement, Chevron will provide funding to allow truck operators to subsidize the cost of buying new RNG-powered trucks and will supply RNG to our stations near the ports.
AFTC. The AFTC, which had previously expired on December 31, 2016, was reinstated on February 9, 2018 to apply to vehicle fuel sales made from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. As a result, all AFTC revenue for vehicle fuel we sold in the 2017 calendar year, which totaled $25.2 million, was recognized and collected during the year ended December 31, 2018. In addition, during the year ended December 31, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service approved, and we recognized as revenue, $1.5 million of AFTC credit claims related to prior years. On December 20, 2019, the AFTC was retroactively extended beginning January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2020. As a result, AFTC revenue for vehicle fuel we sold in 2018 and 2019, which totaled $47.1 million, was recognized during the year ended December 31, 2019. AFTC revenue recognized during the year ended December 31, 2020 totaled $19.8 million. The AFTC credit for 2018,
2019 and 2020 was equal to $0.50 per GGE of CNG that we sold as vehicle fuel, and $0.50 per diesel gallon of LNG that we sold as vehicle fuel. In December 2020 AFTC was extended for vehicle fuel sales made through December 31, 2021.
Share Repurchase Program. On March 12, 2020, our Board of Directors approved the Repurchase Program for up to $30.0 million (exclusive of fees and commissions) of our outstanding common stock. The Repurchase Program does not have an expiration date, does not obligate us to acquire any specific number of shares, and may be suspended or discontinued at any time. As of December 31, 2020, we had utilized $14.5 million under the Repurchase Program to purchase 7,744,386 shares of our common stock for a total cost of $14.6 million. We have not repurchased any shares under the Repurchase Program in 2021.
Zero Now Truck Financing Program. We launched the Zero Now truck financing program, which is intended to facilitate and increase the deployment of commercially available RNG heavy-duty trucks in the United States and encourage these operators to fuel their trucks at our stations. The Zero Now program is unique and complex, and has involved our entry into various arrangements in order to launch the program, including a term credit agreement for delayed draw loans of up to $100.0 million; a credit support agreement with THUSA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Total, under which THUSA has guaranteed our obligations under the term credit agreement in exchange for a quarterly fee; and commodity swap arrangements with an affiliate of THUSA and Total covering five million diesel gallons of natural gas fuel volume annually from April 2019 through June 2024, which are intended to manage diesel price fluctuation risks related to the natural gas fuel supply commitments we expect to make in our anticipated fueling agreements with fleet operators that participate in the Zero Now program. See the disclosure under “Key Customer Markets-Zero Now” in Item 1. “Business” of this report for information about these agreements and the structure of the program.
Debt Repurchase and Repayment.
On October 1, 2018, we paid to the holders of our 5.25% Convertible Senior Notes due October 2018, in cash, all amounts then owed under the notes, totaling an aggregate of $110.5 million in principal amount plus $2.9 million in accrued and unpaid interest. Upon such payment, all such notes were surrendered and canceled in full and we have no further obligations under these notes.
In December 2018, we purchased from the holders thereof all outstanding 7.5% Notes due July 2019, having an aggregate outstanding principal amount of $50.0 million, for a cash purchase price of $50.5 million. Upon such purchase, all such notes were surrendered and canceled in full and we have no further obligations under these notes. As a result of the early retirement of these notes we saved $1.7 million in interest expense in 2019.
In May 2020, we repaid the remaining $50.0 million of 7.5% Notes and related accrued and unpaid interest thereon. Upon such payment, the 7.5% Notes were paid in full.
See Note 12 for more information about our outstanding debt.
Expanded bp RNG Supply Agreement. In October 2018, our supply agreement with bp was amended to extend the term and add additional RNG supply. We share with bp in the RINs and LCFS Credits generated from the increased RNG supply sold through our vehicle fueling infrastructure and to other customers.
Total Private Placement. On May 9, 2018, we entered into a stock purchase agreement with Total Marketing Services, S.E., or TMS, a wholly owned subsidiary of Total, for the sale and issuance to TMS of 50,856,296 shares of our common stock for a per share purchase price of $1.64 and an aggregate purchase price of $83.4 million, all in a private placement (the “Total Private Placement”). The Total Private Placement closed on June 13, 2018, upon the satisfaction of all conditions to closing. We used the net proceeds from the Total Private Placement for working capital and general corporate purposes, which included retiring a portion of our outstanding indebtedness.
The agreements related to the Total Private Placement also contain representations, warranties and covenants made by us and TMS regarding, among other matters, certain director designation rights we have granted to TMS (along with undertakings by certain of our stockholders, including all of our directors and executive officers, to vote their shares in favor of such director designees in future elections of directors), certain registration rights we have granted to TMS for the
shares that were issued and sold, certain limitations on TMS’s purchase of additional securities of our Company without the approval of our board of directors, and various other matters that are customary for transactions of this nature.
NG Advantage. In February 2020, we converted the principal and accrued interest under the November 2019 Convertible Note (as defined in Note 4) into common units of NG Advantage, LLC (“NG Advantage”) and received common units pursuant to the guaranty agreement entered in February 2018, resulting in an increase in our controlling interest in NG Advantage to 93.3%.
Debt Level and Debt Compliance
As of December 31, 2020, we had total indebtedness, excluding finance lease obligations, of $85.8 million in principal amount, of which $3.6 million is expected to become due in 2021. Certain of the agreements governing our outstanding debt, which are discussed in Note 12, have certain financial and non-financial covenants with which we must comply. As of December 31, 2020, we were in compliance with all of these covenants.
Market for RNG, CNG and LNG as a Vehicle Fuel
According to CARB, RNG and conventional natural gas are cleaner than gasoline and diesel fuel based on the greenhouse gas emissions produced by vehicles operated by these fuels. Additionally, RNG and conventional natural gas are generally less expensive for vehicle operators than gasoline and diesel on an energy equivalent basis. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, demand for renewable and conventional natural gas fuels in the United States has increased in recent years and is expected to continue to increase. We expect our sales of RNG and conventional natural gas to grow as more companies look to operate in an increasingly sustainable way. In addition to pressure from politicians, regulators and non-governmental organizations, the investment community has dramatically increased demands on companies to diminish their contributions to climate change. We believe that RNG is the best tool available today to reduce climate-harming greenhouse gas and meet sustainability objectives.
The market for our vehicle fuels, however, is a relatively new and developing market. As a result, it is difficult to accurately predict demand for our vehicle fuels, in general and in any specific geographic and customer markets, and consequently our timing and level of investment in particular markets may not be consistent with any growth in demand in these markets. Further, the new and developing nature of the market for our vehicle fuels has led to slow, volatile or unpredictable growth in some sectors. For example, to date, adoption and deployment of vehicles using our fuels, in general and in certain of our key customer markets, including heavy-duty trucking, have been slower and more limited than we anticipated.
We believe challenging market conditions are caused by a number of factors, including the following:
|●||Low and volatile prices for oil, diesel and gasoline, which decreases the price advantage of our fuels. In addition, these pricing conditions have led us to reduce the prices we charge some customers for our fuels, which has reduced our profit margins.|
|●||There has been increased focus by some parties, including lawmakers, regulators, policymakers, environmental and advocacy organizations and other powerful groups, on electric or other alternative vehicles or vehicle fuels. For example, California lawmakers and regulators have implemented various measures designed to increase the use of electric, hydrogen and other zero-emission vehicles, including establishing firm goals for the number of these vehicles operating on state roads by specified dates and enacting various laws and other programs in support of these goals. Among other things, we believe many California lawmakers and regulators desire to limit and ultimately discontinue the production and use of internal combustion engines because such engines have “tailpipe” emissions.|
|●||We believe the lack of substantial growth in the heavy-duty trucking market has been driven in part by the experience of operators with, or perceptions of, unsatisfactory performance by prior models of heavy-duty truck|
|engines, actual or perceived insufficiencies in the financial incentives to convert, and improvements in diesel engine technology. If these conditions continue, then the growth levels in this market will continue to be low. We believe the newest models of heavy-duty truck engines have substantially addressed concerns with prior models. Further, we have launched our Zero Now truck financing program and the Chevron Adopt-a-Port program to combat operator concerns, but these programs may not ultimately be successful.|
To the extent these or other factors have contributed to curtailed demand or slowing growth in the market for our vehicle fuels, we believe they have also contributed to decreases in station construction activity in certain periods, as the success of this activity is dependent on the success of the market for our vehicle fuels generally. Moreover, we believe these factors have materially contributed to the volatility and declines in our stock price and market capitalization in recent years, which has and could in the future lead to decreased cash flows and indications of asset or goodwill impairment. If these adverse macroeconomic conditions and other uncertainties in our industry persist, our financial results and stock price may continue to be adversely affected.
In spite of these market conditions, we believe our key customer markets, including heavy-duty trucking, airports, refuse, and public transit, are well-suited for the adoption of our vehicle fuels because they consume relatively high volumes of fuel, refuel at centralized locations or along well-defined routes and/or are facing increasingly stringent emissions or other environmental requirements. We also expect the lower greenhouse gas emissions associated with our RNG vehicle fuel will result in increased demand for this fuel, resulting in our continued delivery of increasing volumes of RNG to our vehicle fleet customers. Additionally, we anticipate that, over time, cities and communities in the United States and Canada will follow large cities in Europe in banning diesel vehicles. If these projections materialize, we believe there will be growth in the consumption of our vehicle fuels in our key customer and geographic markets, and our goal is to capitalize on this growth if and when it materializes. In that event, we expect our operating costs and capital expenditures would increase in connection with any growth of our business in the future.
Overview. Our gross revenue mostly consists of volume-related revenue, station construction sales, and AFTC revenue. Our revenue can vary between periods due to a variety of factors, including, among others, the amount and timing of vehicle fuel sales, natural gas commodity prices, station construction sales, sales of Environmental Credits, and recognition of government credits, grants and incentives, such as AFTC. In addition, our volume-related revenue has been and may continue to be subject to increased fluctuations as a result of our entry into certain commodity swap arrangements in October 2018, because the changes in fair value of these and certain other derivative instruments, including existing and anticipated fueling contracts under our Zero Now truck financing program, are included in volume-related revenue.
Our cost of sales can also vary between periods due to a variety of factors, including fluctuations in natural gas commodity prices, station construction and labor costs, as well as the other factors that impact our revenue levels described above.
In addition, our performance in certain periods has been affected by transactions or events that have resulted in significant cash or non-cash gains or losses. Such gains or losses may not recur regularly, in the same amounts or at all in future periods and, with respect to non-cash gains and losses, do not impact our liquidity.
These significant fluctuations in our operating results may render period-to-period comparisons less meaningful, especially given the current uncertainties related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and investors in our securities should not rely on the results of one period as an indicator of performance in any other period. Additionally, these fluctuations in our operating results could cause our performance in any period to fall below the financial guidance we may have provided to the public or the estimates and projections of the investment community, which could negatively affect the price of our common stock.
See “Results of Operations” below for more information about our performance in 2019 and 2020.
Volume. The amount of RNG and conventional natural gas, in the form of CNG and LNG, that we delivered decreased by 4.6% from 2019 to 2020 due to the effect of COVID-19.
While total volume declined due to the effect of COVID-19, the amount of RNG we sell for vehicle fuel, which is delivered in the form of CNG or LNG, has experienced rapid growth in recent years, and increased by 7% from 2019 to 2020. We believe the increased demand for RNG is attributable to the dramatic reduction in the amount of climate-harming greenhouse gas that can be achieved through the use of RNG and pressure from politicians, regulators, non-governmental organizations and the investment community directed at companies to reduce their contributions to climate change. To the extent demand for RNG continues to increase, we expect our expanded supply agreement with bp, discussed under “2018-2020 Developments” above, could increase our volume-related revenue due to increased volumes of RNG vehicle fuel sold and increased generation of RINs and LCFS Credits. In addition, such an increase in RNG demand could also result in more robust competition for supplies of RNG, including from other vehicle fuel providers, gas utilities (which may have distinct advantages in accessing RNG supply, including potential use of ratepayer funds to fund RNG purchases if approved by a utility’s regulatory commission) and other users and providers. We expect to invest in production projects to help ensure that we have adequate supply of RNG, and we are pursuing development and ownership of livestock waste ADG projects on our own and with partners including Total and bp.
Environmental Credits. When we sell RNG and conventional natural gas for use as a vehicle fuel, we are eligible to generate RINs and LCFS Credits, which we then seek to sell to third parties.
The markets for RINs and LCFS Credits have been volatile and unpredictable in recent periods, and the prices for these credits have been subject to significant fluctuations. For example, in 2020 market prices for RINs were as high as approximately $2.13 and as low as approximately $0.80. Additionally, the value of RINs and LCFS Credits, and consequently the revenue levels we may receive from our sale of these credits, may be adversely affected by changes to the federal and state programs under which these credits are generated and sold, prices for and use of oil, diesel or gasoline, the inclusion of additional qualifying fuels in the programs, increased production levels of other fuels in the programs, or other conditions. Further, our ability to generate revenue from sales of these credits depends on our strict compliance with these federal and state programs, which are complex and can involve a significant degree of judgment. If the agencies that administer and enforce these programs disagree with our judgments, otherwise determine we are not in compliance, conduct reviews of our activities or make changes to the programs, then our ability to generate or sell these credits could be temporarily restricted pending completion of reviews or as a penalty, permanently limited or lost entirely, and we could be subject to fines or other sanctions. Any of these outcomes could force us to purchase credits in the open market to cover any credits we have contracted to sell, retire credits we may have generated but not yet sold, reduce or eliminate a significant revenue stream or incur substantial additional and unplanned expenses.
Risk Management Activities
From time to time, we enter into fuel sales contracts that require us to sell CNG or LNG to our customers at a fixed price. These contracts expose us to the risk that the price of natural gas commodity may increase above the natural gas commodity cost component included in the price at which we are committed to sell the natural gas to our customers.
In an effort to mitigate the volatility of our earnings related to any futures contracts and to reduce our risk related to our fixed price sales contracts, we operate under a hedging policy pursuant to which we purchase futures contracts to hedge our exposure to variability in expected future cash flows related to a particular fixed price contract or bid. Subject to the conditions set forth in the policy, we purchase futures contracts in quantities reasonably expected to effectively hedge our exposure to cash flow variability related to fixed price sales contracts entered into after the date of the policy. Unless otherwise agreed in advance by our board of directors and the derivatives committee thereof, we will conduct our futures contract activities and enter into fixed price sales contracts only in accordance with our hedging policy.
Due to the restrictions of our hedging policy, we expect to offer few fixed price sales contracts to our customers. If we do offer a fixed price sales contract, we anticipate including a price component that would cover our estimated cash requirements over the duration of the underlying futures contracts. The amount of this price component will vary based on the anticipated volume and the natural gas price component to be covered under the fixed price sales contract.
In October 2018, in support of our Zero Now truck financing program, we executed two commodity swap contracts with Total Gas & Power North America, an affiliate of Total and THUSA, for a total of five million diesel gallons annually from April 1, 2019 to June 30, 2024. These commodity swap contracts are intended to manage risks related to the diesel-
to-natural gas price spread in connection with the natural gas fuel supply commitments we have made and expect to make in our current and anticipated fueling agreements with fleet operators that participate in the Zero Now program.
Critical Accounting Policies
This discussion is based upon our consolidated financial statements included in this report, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (“U.S. GAAP”). The preparation of consolidated financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes. Actual results could differ from those estimates and may result in material effects on our operating results and financial position.
We believe the critical accounting policies discussed below affect our more significant estimates made in preparing our consolidated financial statements. See Notes 1 and 2 for more information about these and our other significant accounting policies.
In general, revenue is recognized when control of the promised goods or services is transferred to our customers, in an amount that reflects the consideration to which we expect to be entitled in exchange for the goods or services. To achieve that core principle, a five-step approach is applied: (1) identify the contract with a customer, (2) identify the performance obligations in the contract, (3) determine the transaction price, (4) allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract, and (5) recognize revenue allocated to each performance obligation when we satisfy the performance obligation. A performance obligation is a promise in a contract to transfer a distinct good or service to the customer and is the unit of account for revenue recognition.
We recognize revenue on various products and services.
Our volume-related revenue primarily consists of sales of RNG and conventional natural gas, in the form of CNG and LNG, O&M services, and RINs and LCFS Credits in addition to changes in fair value of our derivative instruments.
Fuel and O&M services are sold pursuant to contractual commitments over defined goods-and-service delivery periods. These contracts typically include a stand-ready obligation to supply natural gas and/or provide O&M services daily based on a committed and agreed upon routine maintenance schedule or when and if called upon by the customer.
We recognize fuel and O&M services revenue in the amount to which we have the right to invoice. We have a right to consideration based on the amount of GGEs of natural gas dispensed by the customer and current pricing conditions, which are typically billed to the customer on a monthly basis. Since payment terms are less than a year, we have elected the practical expedient which allows us to not assess whether a customer contract has a significant financing component.
We sell RIN Credits and LCFS Credits to third parties that need the credits to comply with federal and state requirements. Revenue is recognized on these credits when there is an agreement in place to monetize the credits at a determinable price.
Changes in fair value of derivative instruments relates to our commodity swap and certain customer fueling contracts under our Zero Now truck financing program. The contracts are measured at fair value with changes in the fair value recorded in our consolidated statements of operations in the period incurred. The amounts are classified as revenue because our commodity swap contracts are used to economically offset the risk associated with the diesel-to-natural gas price spread resulting from existing and anticipated customer fueling contracts under our Zero Now truck financing program.
Station construction contracts are generally short-term, except for certain larger and more complex stations, which can take up to 24 months to complete. For most of our station construction contracts, the customer contracts with us to provide a significant service of integrating a complex set of tasks and components into a single station. Hence, the entire contract is accounted for as one performance obligation.
We recognize station construction revenue over time as we perform under these contracts because of the continual transfer of control of the goods to the customer, which typically controls the work in process. Revenue is recognized based on the extent of progress towards completion of the performance obligation and is recorded proportionally as costs are incurred. Costs to fulfill our obligations under these contracts typically include labor, materials and subcontractors’ costs, other direct costs and an allocation of indirect costs.
Refinements of estimates to account for changing conditions and new developments are continuous and characteristic of the process. Many factors that can affect contract profitability may change during the performance period of the contract, including differing site conditions, the availability of skilled contract labor, the performance of major suppliers and subcontractors, and unexpected changes in material costs. Because a significant change in one or more of these estimates could affect the profitability of these contracts, the contract price and cost estimates are reviewed periodically as work progresses and adjustments proportionate to the cost-to-cost measure of progress are reflected in contract revenues in the reporting period when such estimates are revised as discussed above. Provisions for estimated losses on uncompleted contracts are recorded in the period in which the losses become known.
In certain contracts with our customers, we agree to provide multiple goods or services, including construction of and sale of a station, O&M services, and sale of fuel to the customer. These contracts have multiple performance obligations because the promise to transfer each separate good or service is separately identifiable and distinct. This evaluation requires significant judgment and the decision to combine a group of contracts or separate the combined or single contract into multiple performance obligations could change the amount of revenue recognized in one or more periods.
We allocate the contract price to each performance obligation using best estimates of the standalone selling price of each distinct good or service in the contract. The primary method used to estimate the standalone selling price for fuel and O&M services is observable standalone sales, and the primary method used to estimate the standalone selling price for station construction sales is the expected cost plus a margin approach because we sell customized customer-specific solutions. Under this approach, we forecast expected costs of satisfying a performance obligation and then add an appropriate margin for the good or service.
AFTC is considered variable consideration because it can either increase or decrease the transaction price based on volumes of vehicle fuel sold. Additionally, AFTC is not recognized as revenue until it is authorized through federal legislation, which also provides a determinable price. We recognize revenue in the period the credit is authorized through federal legislation.
We collect and remit taxes assessed by various governmental authorities that are imposed on and concurrent with revenue-producing transactions between us and our customers. These taxes may include, among others, fuel, sales and value-added taxes. We report the collection of these taxes on a net basis and they are excluded from revenue and cost of goods sold.
Impairment of Goodwill and Long-Lived Assets
Goodwill represents the excess of costs incurred over the fair value of the net assets of acquired businesses. We assess our goodwill using either a qualitative or quantitative approach to determine whether it is more likely than not that the fair value of our reporting unit is less than its carrying value. We are required to use judgment when applying the goodwill impairment test, including, among other considerations, the identification of reporting unit(s), the assessment of qualitative factors, and the estimation of fair value of a reporting unit in the quantitative approach. We determined that we are a single reporting unit for the purpose of goodwill impairment tests. We perform the impairment test annually on October 1, or more frequently if facts or circumstances change that would indicate that the carrying amount may be impaired.
The qualitative goodwill assessment includes the potential effect on a reporting unit’s fair value of certain events and circumstances, including its enterprise value, macroeconomic conditions, industry and market considerations, cost factors, and other relevant entity-specific events. If it is determined, based upon the qualitative assessment, that it is more likely than not that the reporting unit’s fair value is less than its carrying amount, then a quantitative impairment test is performed. Alternatively, we may bypass the qualitative assessment for a reporting unit and directly perform the quantitative assessment.
The quantitative assessment estimates the reporting unit's fair value based on its market capitalization plus an assumed control premium as evidence of fair value. The estimates used to determine the fair value of the reporting unit may change based on results of operations, macroeconomic conditions stock price fluctuations or other factors. Changes in these estimates could materially affect our assessment of the fair value and goodwill impairment for the reporting unit.
For our most recent goodwill impairment test, which was our annual test performed on October 1, 2020, we performed a quantitative impairment assessment for the reporting unit as described above. In this test, the fair value of the reporting unit substantially exceeded its carrying value.
We evaluated the volatility in the market price of our common stock subsequent to our annual test date through December 31, 2020, and considered whether there were any other events or circumstances that would more likely than not reduce the fair value of our reporting unit below its carrying value on a sustained basis, and concluded it was not more likely than not that the fair value of our reporting unit decreased below its carrying value, on a sustained basis. As a result, an interim impairment test was not considered necessary during the three months ended December 31, 2020.
If a significant decline in the market price of our common stock and our market capitalization were sustained, or if other events or circumstances change that would more likely than not reduce the fair value of our reporting unit below its carrying value, on a sustained basis, then we may perform impairment tests more frequently, and it is possible that our goodwill could become impaired, which could result in a material charge and adversely affect our results of operations.
We review the carrying value of our long-lived assets, including property and equipment and intangible assets with finite useful lives, for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of an asset or asset group may not be recoverable. Events that could result in an impairment review include, among others, a significant decrease in the operating performance of a long-lived asset or asset group or the decision to close a fueling station. Impairment testing involves a comparison of the sum of the undiscounted future cash flows of the asset or asset group to its carrying amount. If the sum of the undiscounted future cash flows exceeds the carrying amount, then no impairment exists. If the carrying amount exceeds the sum of the undiscounted future cash flows, then a second step is performed to determine the amount of impairment, if any, to be recognized. An impairment loss is recognized to the extent that the carrying amount of the asset or asset group exceeds its fair value. The fair value of the asset or asset group is based on estimated discounted future cash flows of the asset or asset group using a discount rate commensurate with the related risk. The estimate of future cash flows requires management to make assumptions and to apply judgment, including forecasting future sales and expenses and estimating useful lives of the assets. These estimates can be affected by a number of factors, including, among others, future results, demand and economic conditions, many of which can be difficult to predict.
Income taxes are computed using the asset and liability method. Under this method, deferred income taxes are recognized by applying enacted statutory tax rates applicable to future years to differences between the tax bases and financial carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities. The impact on deferred taxes of changes in tax rates and laws, if any, are applied to the years during which temporary differences are expected to be settled and are reflected in the consolidated financial statements in the period of enactment. Valuation allowances are established when management determines it is more likely than not that deferred tax assets will not be realized. When evaluating the need for a valuation analysis, we use estimates involving a high degree of judgment including projected future U.S. GAAP income and the amounts and estimated timing of the reversal of any deferred tax assets and liabilities.
We have a recognition threshold and a measurement attribute for the financial statement recognition and measurement of tax positions taken or expected to be taken in a tax return. For those benefits to be recognized, a tax position must be more likely than not to be sustained upon examination by taxing authorities based on the technical merits of the position. The amount recognized is measured as the largest amount of benefit that has a greater than 50% likelihood of being realized upon ultimate settlement. We recognize potential accrued interest and penalties related to unrecognized tax benefit in income tax expense.
We operate within multiple domestic and foreign taxing jurisdictions and are subject to audit in these jurisdictions. These audits can involve complex issues, which may require an extended period of time to resolve. Although we believe
that adequate consideration has been given to these issues, it is possible that the ultimate resolution of these issues could be significantly different than originally estimated.
Fair Value Measurements
We have established a framework that follows the authoritative guidance for fair value measurements with respect to assets and liabilities that are measured at fair value on a recurring basis and non-recurring basis. Under the framework, fair value is defined as the exit price, or the amount that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants, as of the measurement date. The framework also establishes a hierarchy for inputs used in measuring fair value that maximizes the use of observable inputs and minimizes the use of unobservable inputs by requiring that the most observable inputs be used when available. Observable inputs are inputs market participants would use in valuing the asset or liability and are developed based on market data obtained from sources independent of our Company. Unobservable inputs are inputs that reflect our assumptions about the factors market participants would use in valuing the asset or liability and are developed based upon the best information available in the circumstances. The hierarchy consists of the following three levels: Level 1 inputs are quoted prices (unadjusted) in active markets for identical assets or liabilities; Level 2 inputs include quoted prices for similar assets or liabilities in active markets, quoted prices for identical or similar assets or liabilities in markets that are not active, and inputs (other than quoted prices) that are observable for the asset or liability, either directly or indirectly; Level 3 inputs are unobservable inputs for the asset or liability. Categorization within the valuation hierarchy is based upon the lowest level of input that is significant to the fair value measurement.
Our significant uses of fair value measurements include the valuation of commodity swaps and customer contracts, and warrants, all of which require significant judgment.
Recently Adopted Accounting Changes and Recently Issued and Adopted Accounting Standards.
See Note 1 for information about recently adopted accounting changes and recently issued accounting standards.
Results of Operations
The discussions below compare our results of operations in 2020 and 2019. Historical results are not indicative of the results to be expected in the current period or any future period.
2020 Compared to 2019
The table below presents, for each period, each line item of our statement of operations data as a percentage of our total revenue for the period. The narrative that follows provides a comparative discussion of certain of these line items between periods.
Statements of Operations Data:
Cost of sales (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below):
Product cost of sales
Service cost of sales
Change in fair value of derivative warrants
Selling, general and administrative
Depreciation and amortization
Total operating expenses
Operating income (loss)
Other income (expense), net
Loss from equity method investments
Gain from sale of certain assets of subsidiary
Gain (loss) from formation of equity method investment
Income (loss) before income taxes
Income tax expense
Net income (loss)
Loss attributable to noncontrolling interest
Net income (loss) attributable to Clean Energy Fuels Corp.
Revenue. Revenue decreased by $52.3 million to $291.7 million for 2020, from $344.1 million for 2019. This decrease was primarily due a decrease in volume-related revenue and lower AFTC revenue, partially offset by the favorable change in fair value of our commodity swap and customer contracts entered into in connection with our Zero Now truck financing program and an increase in station construction sales.
Volume-related revenue, excluding the effect of the change in fair value of our commodity swap and customer contracts entered into in connection with our Zero Now truck financing program, decreased by $37.2 million between periods, primarily attributable to COVID-19 which resulted in a decrease in gallons delivered and a lower effective price per gallon delivered. Volume-related revenue was favorably impacted by $8.7 million as a result of the change in fair value of our commodity swap and customer contracts entered into in connection with our Zero Now truck financing program, as we recognized an unrealized loss of $6.6 million in 2019 compared to an unrealized gain of $2.1 million in 2020 (see Note 7 for more information).
Our effective price per gallon charged decreased by $0.06 per gallon to $0.64 per gallon in 2020 compared to $0.70 in 2019, excluding the effect of the change in fair value of derivative instruments discussed above. Our effective price per gallon is defined as revenue generated from selling RNG and conventional natural gas and any related Environmental Credits and providing O&M services to our vehicle fleet customers at stations we do not own and for which we receive a per-gallon or fixed fee, all divided by the total GGEs delivered less GGEs delivered by non-consolidated entities, such as entities that are accounted for under the equity method. The decrease in our effective price per gallon was due to decreases
in natural gas prices and the fuel price mix, which is based on the variation of fuel types and locations where we deliver fuel.
Station construction sales increased by $3.5 million between periods, due to increased construction activities.
AFTC revenue decreased by $27.3 million between periods due to our recognition in 2019 of AFTC revenue for the vehicle fuel we sold in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, we recognized AFTC revenue for the vehicle fuel we sold in 2020.
Cost of sales. Cost of sales decreased by $26.7 million to $185.4 million in 2020, from $212.1 million in 2019. This decrease was primarily due to a decrease in gallons delivered during 2020 and a lower effective cost per gallon. These decreases were partially offset by a $0.5 million increase in the cost of station construction activities.
Our effective cost per gallon decreased by $0.05 per gallon to $0.42 per gallon in 2020 compared to $0.47 per gallon in 2019. Our effective cost per gallon is defined as the total costs associated with delivering our fuels, including commodity costs, transportation fees, liquefaction charges, and other site operating costs, plus the total cost of providing O&M services at stations that we do not own and for which we receive a per-gallon or fixed fee, including direct technician labor, indirect supervisor and management labor, repair parts and other direct maintenance costs, all divided by the total GGEs delivered less GGEs delivered by non-consolidated entities, such as entities that are accounted for under the equity method. The decrease in our effective cost per gallon was due to decreases in commodity prices and transportation costs.
Change in fair value of derivative warrants. Change in fair value of derivative warrants, all of which were issued by our subsidiary, NG Advantage, decreased from income of $1.0 million in 2019, to income of $0.0 million in 2020 due to a change in the estimated fair value. The warrants expired unexercised on July 2, 2020.
Selling, general and administrative. Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased by $4.9 million to $68.5 million in 2020, from $73.4 million in 2019. This decrease was primarily driven by reduced activities and cost reductions due to the effect of COVID-19, including lower advertising and travel expenses.
Depreciation and amortization. Depreciation and amortization decreased by $1.9 million to $47.7 million in 2020, from $49.6 million in 2019, primarily due to a lower amount of depreciable assets.
Interest expense. Interest expense decreased by $0.2 million to $7.3 million in 2020, from $7.6 million in 2019. This decrease was primarily due to a reduction of outstanding indebtedness between periods, partially offset by a $1.2 million loss on extinguishment of debt that is included in interest expense.
Other income (expense), net. Other income (expense), net, changed from income of $2.0 million in 2019 to income of $3.0 million in 2020, primarily due to gains recorded from disposal of certain assets.
Loss from equity method investments. Loss from equity method investments increased by $0.0 million to $0.2 million in 2020, from $0.1 million in 2019, primarily due to the operating results of SAFE&CEC S.r.l. being negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic partially offset by improved operating results from MCEP.
Gain from sale of certain assets of subsidiary. In 2020, we recorded a gain of $1.1 million compared to a gain of $7.5 million in 2019 as a result of the satisfaction of specified performance criteria in each of 2019 and 2020 related to the assets sold in the bp Transaction in accordance with the related Amended Asset Purchase Agreement.
Gain from formation of equity method investment. In 2020, we recorded a gain of $0.7 million related to the release of costs accrued in satisfaction of commitments made in connection with the CEC Combination. There was no comparable gain or loss in 2019.
Income tax expense. Income tax expense decreased by $0.5 million to $0.3 million in 2020 from $0.9 million in 2019, primarily due a decrease in deferred taxes associated with goodwill and a reduction in the Company’s expected state tax expense.
Loss attributable to noncontrolling interest. In 2020, we recorded a $1.7 million loss for the noncontrolling interest in the net loss of NG Advantage, compared to a $7.2 million loss for 2019. The Company’s relevant noncontrolling interest in NG Advantage represented a 35.4% minority interest during 2019 and a 6.7% minority interest during 2020.
Seasonality and Inflation
To some extent, we experience seasonality in our results of operations. Some of our customers tend to consume more of our vehicle fuels in the summer months, when buses and other fleet vehicles use more fuel to power their air conditioning systems, which typically translate to an increased volume of fuel delivered in the summer months. In addition, natural gas commodity prices tend to be higher in the fall and winter months, due to increased overall demand for natural gas for heating during these periods.
Historically, inflation has not significantly affected our operating results; however, costs for construction, repairs, maintenance, electricity and insurance are all subject to inflationary pressures, which could affect our ability to maintain our stations adequately, build new stations, expand our existing facilities or pursue additional facilities, and could materially impact our operating costs.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Liquidity is the ability to meet present and future financial obligations through operating cash flows, the sale or maturity of investments or the acquisition of additional funds through capital management. Our financial position and liquidity are, and will continue to be, influenced by a variety of factors, including the level of our outstanding indebtedness and the principal and interest we are obligated to pay on our indebtedness, which could be influenced by the potential discontinuance of LIBOR for certain of our debt instruments that tie interest rates to this metric; the amount and timing of any additional debt or equity financing we may pursue; our capital expenditure requirements; any merger, divestiture or acquisition activity; and our ability to generate cash flows from our operations. We expect cash provided by our operating activities to fluctuate as a result of a number of factors, including our operating results and the factors that affect these results, including the amount and timing of our vehicle fuel sales, station construction sales, sales of RINs and LCFS Credits and recognition of government credits, the effects of COVID-19, grants and incentives, if any; fluctuations in commodity, station construction and labor costs; Environmental Credit prices; variations in the fair value of certain of our derivative instruments that are recorded in revenue; and the amount and timing of our billing, collections and liability payments, as discussed under “Key Trends-Our Performance” above.
Operating Activities. Cash provided by operating activities was $61.0 million in 2020, compared to $12.3 million in 2019. The increase in cash provided by operating activities was primarily attributable to AFTC revenues, partially offset by other changes in working capital resulting from the timing of receipts and payments of cash in 2020, and $7.8 million used to terminate a contract between NG Advantage and bp.
Investing Activities. Cash provided by investing activities was $24.2 million in 2020, compared to cash used in investing activities of $1.5 million in 2019. The change was primarily attributable to an increase in net maturities of short-term investments in 2020 compared to 2019 and lower capital expenditures, partially offset by lower proceeds from property and equipment disposals and lower net earn-out proceeds received in connection with the bp Transaction.
Financing Activities. Cash used in financing activities was $18.7 million in 2020, compared to cash provided by financing activities of $7.7 million in 2019. Cash used in financing activities in 2020 was primarily attributable to an increase in repayments of debt instruments and finance lease obligations due to repayment of the 7.5% Notes and repurchases of common stock, partially offset by proceeds received from debt instruments. Cash provided by financing activities in 2019 was primarily attributable to proceeds from debt instruments, partially offset by repayments of debt instruments and finance lease obligations.
Capital Expenditures, Indebtedness and Other Uses of Cash
We require cash to fund our capital expenditures, operating expenses and working capital and other requirements, including costs associated with fuel sales; outlays for the design and construction of new fueling stations; additions or other modifications to existing fueling stations; RNG production facilities; debt repayments and repurchases; repurchases of common stock; purchases of heavy-duty trucks that use our fuels; additions or modifications of LNG production facilities; supporting our operations, including maintenance and improvements of our infrastructure; supporting our sales and marketing activities, including support of legislative and regulatory initiatives; financing vehicles for our customers; any investments in other entities; any mergers or acquisitions, including acquisitions to expand our RNG production capacity; pursuing market expansion as opportunities arise, including geographically and to new customer markets; and to fund other activities or pursuits and for other general corporate purposes.
Our business plan calls for approximately $27.5 million in capital expenditures in 2021. These capital expenditures primarily relate to the construction of fueling stations, IT software and equipment and LNG plant costs and we expect to fund these expenditures primarily through cash on hand and cash generated from operations.
In addition, NG Advantage may spend up to $0.4 million in 2021 to purchase additional equipment in support of its operations and customer contracts. Although NG Advantage has sought financing from third parties for capital expenditures, we have provided and may continue to provide financing for these capital expenditures.
We had total indebtedness, consisting of our debt and finance leases, of approximately $89.2 million in principal amount as of December 31, 2020, of which approximately $4.5 million, $54.5 million, $9.8 million, $10.4 million, $1.7 million and $8.3 million is expected to become due in 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025 and thereafter, respectively. Importantly, $50.0 million of such indebtedness was “Preformation Funding” provided by bp to fund capital costs and expenses incurred prior to formation of the bpJV. All such Preformation Funding, including accrued interest thereon, will be contributed to the bpJV, at which time it will no longer be outstanding indebtedness. We will be required to repay the Preformation Funding, including accrued interest at LIBOR plus 4.33%, if the bpJV is not formed by April 30, 2022. Based on outstanding debt balances and applicable interest rates as of December 31, 2020, we expect our total interest payment obligations relating to our indebtedness to be $2.3 million for the year ending December 31, 2021. We plan to and believe we are able to make all expected principal and interest payments in the next 12 months.
We intend to make payments under our various debt instruments when due and pursue opportunities for earlier repayment and/or refinancing if and when these opportunities arise.
Further, in 2021 we anticipate deploying up to approximately $100.0 million to develop dairy RNG production projects and up to approximately $75.0 million for fueling stations that will support long-term contracted RNG fueling volume.
Sources of Cash
Historically, our principal sources of liquidity have consisted of cash on hand, cash provided by our operations, including, if available, AFTC and other government credits, grants and incentives, cash provided by financing activities, and sales of assets. As of December 31, 2020, we had total cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments of $138.5 million, compared to $106.1 million as of December 31, 2019.
We expect cash provided by our operating activities to fluctuate depending on our operating results, which can be affected by the factors described above, as well as the other factors described in this MD&A and Item 1A. “Risk Factors” of this report.
In October 2018 and January 2019, we entered into agreements to implement our Zero Now truck financing program, which, as of December 31, 2020, permit us to incur up to an additional $94.9 million of indebtedness through the beginning of January 2022, obligate us to make certain interest and other fee payments in connection with this debt and THUSA’s related guaranty (which payments will vary in amount but will be owed by us regardless of the revenue we may receive from the program), and subject us to potential additional payments in connection with related commodity swap
arrangements. We are permitted to use any proceeds we receive under these agreements solely to fund the incremental cost of trucks purchased or financed by operators that participate in the Zero Now program. See “Recent Developments” and “Key Trends” above and Note 12 of this report for more information.
Subject to the following paragraph, we believe our cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments and anticipated cash provided by our operating and financing activities will satisfy our business requirements for at least the 12 months following the date of this report. Subsequent to that period, we may need to raise additional capital to fund any planned or unanticipated capital expenditures, investments, debt repayments, share repurchases or other expenses that we cannot fund through cash on-hand, cash provided by our operations or other sources. Moreover, we may use our cash resources faster than we predict due to unexpected expenditures, the effects of COVID-19, or higher-than-expected expenses, in which case we may need to seek capital from alternative sources sooner than we anticipate. The timing and necessity of any future capital raise would depend on various factors, including our rate and volume of, and prices for, natural gas fuel sales and other volume-related activity, the effects of COVID-19, new station construction, debt repayments (either before or at maturity) and any potential mergers, acquisitions, investments, divestitures or other strategic relationships we may pursue, as well as the other factors that affect our revenue and expense levels as described in this MD&A and elsewhere in this report.
If we deploy additional capital to develop dairy RNG production projects and fueling stations to support contracted RNG fueling volume as described above under “Liquidity and Capital Resources – Capital Expenditures, Indebtedness and Other Uses of Cash,” we will be required to raise significant additional capital during 2021.
We may raise additional capital through one or more sources, including, among others, obtaining equity capital, including through offerings of our common stock or other securities, obtaining new or restructuring existing debt, selling assets, or any combination of these or other potential sources of capital. We may not be able to raise capital when needed, on terms that are favorable to us or our stockholders or at all. Any inability to raise necessary capital may impair our ability to develop and maintain fueling infrastructure, invest in strategic transactions or acquisitions or repay our outstanding indebtedness and may reduce our ability to support and build our business and generate sustained or increased revenue.
The table below represents the scheduled maturities of our contractual obligations as of December 31, 2020. This table excludes certain potential contractual obligations because they may involve future cash payments that are considered uncertain and cannot be estimated because they vary based upon future conditions; however, the exclusion of these obligations should not be construed as an implication that they are immaterial, as they could significantly affect our short- and long-term liquidity and capital resource needs depending on a variety of future events, facts and conditions.
Payments Due by Period
Contractual Obligations: (in thousands)
1 - 3 years
3 - 5 years
Long-term debt (1)
Finance lease obligations (2)
Operating lease commitments (3)
Long-term take-or-pay contracts (4)
Long-term supply contract (5)
Construction contracts (6)
|(1)||Consists of long-term debt to finance acquisitions and equipment purchases, including future interest payments. For our variable-rate debt (which consists of the SG Facility and the bp Loan, each as defined in Note 12), we have assumed an interest rate of 1.4% (LIBOR plus 1.30%) and 4.6% (LIBOR plus 4.33%), respectively, as of December 31, 2020.|
|(2)||Consists of finance lease obligations to finance equipment purchases, including future interest payments.|
|(3)||Consists of various space and ground leases for our Boron Plant, office spaces and fueling stations as well as leases for equipment.|
|(4)||Represents our estimates for long-term and quarterly natural gas purchase contracts with a take-or-pay commitment.|
|(5)||Represents our estimates for one long-term natural gas supply contract for our subsidiary NG Advantage, which entered into an arrangement with bp for the supply, sale and transportation of CNG through March 2022.|
|(6)||Consists of our obligations to fund various fueling station construction projects, net of amounts funded through December 31, 2020 and excluding contractual commitments related to station sales contracts.|
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
As of December 31, 2020, we had the following off-balance sheet arrangements that have had, or are reasonably likely to have, a material current or future effect on our financial condition, changes in financial condition, revenue or expenses, results of operations, liquidity, capital expenditures or capital resources:
|●||Outstanding surety bonds for construction contracts and general corporate purposes totaling $29.4 million;|
|●||One long-term natural gas purchase contract with a take-or-pay commitment, the amount of which is shown under “Contractual Obligations” above;|
|●||Quarterly fixed price natural gas purchase contracts with take-or-pay commitments, the amount of which is shown under “Contractual Obligations” above;|
|●||One long-term natural gas sale contract with a fixed supply commitment, the amount of which is shown under “Contractual Obligations” above, along with a guaranty agreement; and|
|●||One long-term natural gas sale contract with a fixed supply commitment.|
We provide surety bonds primarily for construction contracts in the ordinary course of our business, as a form of guarantee. No liability has been recorded in connection with our surety bonds because, based on historical experience and available information, we do not believe it is probable that any amounts will be required to be paid under these arrangements for which we will not be reimbursed.
As of December 31, 2020, we had one long-term natural gas purchase contract with a take-or-pay commitment, which requires us to purchase minimum volumes of natural gas at index-based prices and expires in June 2022. Additionally, as of December 31, 2020, we had quarterly fixed-price natural gas purchase contracts with take-or-pay commitments extending through June 2023.
NG Advantage has entered into an arrangement with bp for the supply, sale and reservation of a specified volume of CNG transportation capacity until March 2022. In connection with the arrangement, on February 28, 2018, we entered into a guaranty agreement with NG Advantage and bp, which was amended in June 2020, in which we guarantee NG Advantage’s payment obligations to the customer in the event of a default by NG Advantage under the supply arrangement, in an amount up to $15.0 million plus related fees. Our guaranty is in effect until thirty days following our notice to bp of termination.
In addition, as of December 31, 2020, we had a fixed supply arrangement with UPS for the supply and sale of 170.0 million GGEs of RNG through March 2026.
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk.
In the ordinary course of our business, we are exposed to various market risks, including commodity price risks, risks related to foreign currency exchange rates, and risks related to fluctuations in interest rates.
Commodity Price Risk
We are subject to market risk with respect to our sales of natural gas, which have historically been subject to volatile market conditions. Our exposure to market risk is heightened when we have a fixed-price sales contract with a customer that is not covered by a futures contract, or when we are otherwise unable to pass through natural gas price increases to customers. Natural gas prices and availability are affected by many factors, including, among others, drilling activity, supply, weather conditions, overall economic conditions and foreign and domestic government regulations.
Natural gas costs represented $94.9 million, $94.0 million and $74.6 million of our cost of sales in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.
In October 2018, in support of our Zero Now truck financing program, we entered into two commodity swap contracts with Total Gas & Power North America, an affiliate of Total and THUSA, for a total of five million diesel gallons annually from April 1, 2019 to June 30, 2024. These commodity swap contracts are intended to manage risks related to the diesel-to-natural gas price spread in connection with the natural gas fuel supply commitments we expect to make in our anticipated fueling agreements with fleet operators that participate in the Zero Now truck financing program.
We have prepared a sensitivity analysis to estimate our exposure to price risk with respect to our commodity swap contracts. If the diesel-to-natural gas price spread were to fluctuate by 10% as of December 31, 2020, we would expect a corresponding fluctuation in the fair value of our commodity swap contracts of approximately $3.8 million.
Foreign Currency Exchange Rate Risk
Our primary exposure to foreign currency exchange rates related to our other Canadian operations that had certain outstanding accounts receivable and accounts payable denominated in the U.S. dollar, which were not hedged.
We have prepared a sensitivity analysis to estimate our exposure to market risk with respect to our monetary transactions denominated in a foreign currency. If the exchange rates on these assets and liabilities were to fluctuate by 10% from the rates as of December 31, 2020, we would expect a corresponding fluctuation in the value of the assets and liabilities of approximately $0.3 million.
Interest Rate Risk
As of December 31, 2020, we had $55.1 million of debt that bears interest at a rate equal to LIBOR plus a margin per annum. Thus, our interest expense would fluctuate with a change in LIBOR. If LIBOR were to increase or decrease by 1% for the year, our annual interest expense would increase or decrease by approximately $0.6 million.
The term credit agreement with SG permits the Company to draw loans from time to time through the beginning of January 2022. These loans, as well as our bp Loan, are subject to an interest rate indexed to LIBOR which is expected to be discontinued after 2021. We intend to monitor the developments with respect to the potential discontinuance of LIBOR after 2021 and work with our lenders under the credit agreements, including SG and bp, and any other indebtedness with an interest rate tied to LIBOR to minimize the effect of such a discontinuance on our financial condition and results of operations; however, the effect of the anticipated discontinuance of LIBOR on us and our debt instruments remains uncertain. If our lenders have increased costs due to changes in LIBOR, we may experience potential increases in interest rates on our variable rate debt, which could adversely impact our interest expense, results of operations and cash flows.
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.
The following tables set forth our quarterly consolidated statements of operations data for the eight quarters ended December 31, 2020. The information for each quarter is unaudited, and we have prepared the information on the same basis as the audited consolidated financial statements included in this report. This information includes all adjustments that management considers necessary for the fair presentation of such data, which include only normal recurring adjustments. See Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations of this report for descriptions of the effects of any unusual or infrequently occurring items recognized in any of the periods
covered by the below quarterly data. The quarterly data should be read together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included in this report. The results of operations for any one quarter are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected in the current period or any future period.
(In thousands, except per share data, Unaudited)
Three Months Ended
Cost of sales (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below):
Product cost of sales
Service cost of sales
Change in fair value of derivative warrants
Selling, general and administrative
Depreciation and amortization
Total operating expenses
Operating income (loss)