Quiver Quantitative

Risk Factors Dashboard

Once a year, publicly traded companies issue a comprehensive report of their business, called a 10-K. A component mandated in the 10-K is the ‘Risk Factors’ section, where companies disclose any major potential risks that they may face. This dashboard highlights all major changes and additions in new 10K reports, allowing investors to quickly identify new potential risks and opportunities.

Risk Factors - SPH

-New additions in green
-Changes in blue
-Hover to see similar sentence in last filing

ITEM 1A.

RISK FACTORS

The following is a cautionary discussion of the most significant risks, uncertainties and assumptions that we believe are significant to our business and should be considered carefully in conjunction with all of the other information set forth in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The risks described below are not an exhaustive list of all of the risks that we face. The risks described below are organized by category of risks to the Partnership, but are not necessarily listed by order of priority or materiality. In addition to the factors discussed elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the factors described in this item could, individually or in the aggregate, cause our actual results to differ materially from those described in any forward-looking statements. Should unknown risks or uncertainties materialize or underlying assumptions prove inaccurate, actual results could materially differ from past results and/or those anticipated, estimated or projected. Achievement of future results is subject to risks, uncertainties and potentially inaccurate assumptions. In this case, the trading price of our Common Units could decline and you might lose part or all of the value in our Common Units. Investing in our Common Units involves a high degree of risk. Past financial performance may not be a reliable indicator of future performance and historical trends should not be used to anticipate results or trends in future periods. You should carefully consider the specific risk factors set forth below as well as the other information contained or incorporated by reference in this Annual Report. Some factors in this section are Forward-Looking Statements. See “Disclosure Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” above.

RISKS RELATED TO OUR BUSINESS

The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted our business, as well as the operations of our customers and suppliers and may continue to impact us in the future.

The ongoing global spread of COVID-19, and variants thereof, and the fear that has been created and continues has resulted in significant economic uncertainty, significant declines in business and consumer confidence, negative impacts and disruptions to our operations and those of our customers and suppliers. The degree of disruption associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has been and remains difficult to predict due to many factors, including:

the scope and uncertainty surrounding the magnitude and duration of the pandemic;

the spread and severity of the pandemic;

the availability, adoption and protection provided by vaccines;

the emergence and severity of any new COVID-19 variants;

governmental actions that have been and may continue to be imposed on businesses such as ours; and

the rate and sustainability of economic recovery after the pandemic subsides.

13


Table of Contents

Our operations could be negatively affected in the future if, among others, a significant number of our employees, or employees who perform critical functions, become ill and/or are quarantined as the result of exposure to COVID-19 or any related variants, or if government policies restrict the ability of our employees to perform their critical functions or require employers to impose vaccine mandates on their employees, who in turn resign or otherwise leave their positions for other businesses that are not required to impose employee vaccinations. We are also unable to predict the extent to which the pandemic may continue to impact our operations, as well as our customers and suppliers and their financial conditions. Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic may make it harder for our management to estimate the future performance of our business. The unpredictable nature and uncertainty of the current COVID-19 pandemic could also magnify and exacerbate the other risks discussed elsewhere in this “Risk Factors” section.

Because weather conditions may adversely affect demand for propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas, our results of operations and financial condition are vulnerable to warm winters and natural disasters.

Weather conditions have a significant impact on the demand for propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas for both heating and agricultural purposes. Many of our customers rely on propane, fuel oil or natural gas primarily as a heating source. The volume of propane, fuel oil and natural gas sold is at its highest during the six-month peak heating season of October through March and is directly affected by the severity and length of the winter months. Typically, we sell approximately two-thirds of our retail propane volume and approximately three-fourths of our retail fuel oil volume during the peak heating season. Weather conditions can vary substantially from year to year in the regions in which we operate, which could significantly impact the demand for our products and our financial performance and condition. The agricultural demand for propane is also affected by the weather, as dry or warm weather during the harvest season may reduce the demand for propane used in some crop drying applications for which we service.

Actual weather conditions can vary substantially from year to year, significantly affecting our financial performance. For example, average temperatures in our service territories were 10%, 10% and 6% warmer than normal for fiscal 2021, fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2019, respectively, as measured by the number of heating degree days reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”). Furthermore, variations in weather in one or more regions in which we operate can significantly affect the total volume of propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas we sell and, consequently, our results of operations. Variations in the weather in the northeast, where we have a greater concentration of propane accounts and substantially all of our fuel oil and natural gas operations, generally have a greater impact on our operations than variations in the weather in other regions. We can give no assurance that the weather conditions in any quarter or year will not have a material adverse effect on our operations, or that our available cash will be sufficient to pay principal and interest on our indebtedness and distributions to Unitholders.

If the frequency or magnitude of significant weather conditions or natural disasters such as floods, droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, blizzards or earthquakes increase, as a result of climate change or for other reasons, our results of operations and our financial performance could be negatively impacted by the extent of damage to our facilities or to our customers’ residential homes and business structures, or of disruption to the supply or delivery of the products we sell.

Deterioration of general economic conditions have harmed and could continue to harm our business and results of operations.

Our business and results of operations have been, and may continue to be, adversely affected by changes in national or global economic conditions, including inflation, interest rates, availability of capital markets, consumer spending rates, unemployment rates, energy availability and costs, the negative impacts caused by pandemics and public health crises (including the COVID-19 pandemic), and the effects of governmental initiatives to manage economic conditions.

Volatility in financial markets and deterioration of national and global economic conditions have impacted, and may again impact, our business and operations in a variety of ways, including as follows:

certain of our commercial, industrial and governmental customers who have temporarily curtailed or suspended operations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic may continue to do so or reinstitute such efforts;

while 2020 and 2021 operating results were favorably impacted by increased usage of our products and services by certain of our residential customers as a result of COVID-19 stay at home and quarantine mandates, such usage levels were higher than usual for our operations and may not continue, or could be reduced in the future, to the extent our residential customers return to a more traditional work environment, or experience a decreased use of our products and services in the future;

our customers may reduce their discretionary spending, or may forego certain purchases altogether, during economic downturns, and may reduce or delay their payments for our products as a result of significant unemployment or an inability to operate or make payments due to COVID-19;

14


Table of Contents

while we have seen some improvements in the economy generally, if volatile or negative economic conditions continue to impact our customers, it could lead to increases in customer payment default rates and/or related challenges in collecting on accounts receivable;

if a significant percentage of our workforce is unable to work, including because of illness or travel or government restrictions in connection with COVID-19, our operations may be negatively impacted;

decreased demand in the residential, commercial, industrial, government, agricultural or wholesale markets (including due to COVID-19) may adversely affect our propane, fuel oil and refined fuels, and natural gas and electricity businesses;

volatility in commodity and other input costs could substantially impact our result of operations;

if our indebtedness increases, or our consolidated EBITDA declines, it could adversely affect our liquidity and lead to increased risks of default under our credit agreement; and

it may become more costly or difficult to obtain debt or equity financing to fund investment opportunities, or to refinance our debt in the future, in each case on terms and within a time period acceptable to us.

Disruption of our supply chain could have an adverse impact on our business and our operating results.

Damage or disruption to our supply chain, including third-party production or transportation and distribution capabilities, due to weather, including any potential effects of climate change, natural disasters, fires or explosions, terrorism, pandemics (such as the COVID-19 pandemic or otherwise), strikes, government action, economic and operational considerations of producers and refineries, or other reasons beyond our control or the control of our suppliers and business partners, could impair our ability to acquire sufficient supplies of the products we sell.

We have actively monitored and managed supply chain and logistical (including transport) issues to the extent needed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impact on our supply chain and the overall global supply chain. Although we source our propane, fuel oil and refined fuels, and natural gas from a broad group of suppliers, restrictions on businesses or volatility in the economy or supply chain resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic could otherwise cause global supply, logistics and transport of these fuels to become constrained, which may cause the price to increase and/or adversely affect our ability to acquire adequate supplies to meet customer demand. Although we source our propane, fuel oil and refined fuels, and natural gas from a broad group of suppliers, due to restrictions resulting from the outbreak, global supply of these fuels may become constrained, which may cause the price to increase and/or adversely affect our ability to acquire adequate supplies to meet customer demand. The disruptions to the global economy in 2020 and into 2021 have impeded global supply chains, resulting in longer lead times and increased freight expenses in general. We have taken steps to minimize the impact of these increased costs by working closely with our suppliers and customers, and strategically managing our purchasing functions and logistics in delivering our products and services. Despite the actions we have undertaken to minimize the impacts from disruptions to the global economy, there can be no assurances that unforeseen future events in the global supply chain, our ability to deliver our products and services or the costs associated therewith, will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, any such modification could make it more difficult or impossible for us to meet the exception that allows publicly traded partnerships that generate qualifying income to be treated as partnerships (rather than as corporations) for US federal income tax purposes, affect or cause us to change our business activities, or affect the tax consequences of an investment in our Common Units.

Sudden increases in our costs to acquire and transport propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas due to, among other things, our inability to obtain adequate supplies from our usual suppliers, or our inability to obtain adequate supplies of such products from alternative suppliers, may adversely affect our operating results.

Our profitability in the retail propane, fuel oil and refined fuels and natural gas businesses is largely dependent on the difference between our costs to acquire and transport product, and retail sales price. Propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas are commodities, and the availability of those products, and the unit prices we need to pay to acquire and transport those products, are subject to volatile changes in response to changes in production and supply or other market conditions over which we have no control, including the severity and length of winter weather, natural disasters, the price and availability of competing alternative energy sources, competing demands for the products (including for export) and infrastructure (including highway, rail, pipeline and refinery) constraints, or delays in shipping availability, backlogs at shipping ports or other points of entry, and lack of available trucking or other shipping means. Propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas are commodities, and the availability of those products, and the unit prices we need to pay to acquire and transport those products, are subject to volatile changes in response to changes in production and supply or other market conditions over which we have no control, including the severity and length of winter weather, natural disasters, the price and availability of competing alternative energy sources, competing demands for the products (including for export) and infrastructure (including highway, rail, pipeline and refinery) constraints. Our supply of these products from our usual sources may be interrupted due to these and other reasons that are beyond our control, necessitating the transportation of product, if it is available at all, by truck, rail car or other means from other suppliers in other areas, with resulting delay in receipt and delivery to customers and increased expense. As a result, our costs of acquiring and transporting alternative supplies of these products to our facilities may be materially higher at least on a short-term basis. Because we may not be able to pass on to our customers immediately, or in full, all increases in our wholesale and transportation costs of propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas, these increases could reduce our profitability. In addition, our inability to obtain sufficient supplies of propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas in order for us to fully meet customer demand for these products on a timely basis could adversely affect our revenues, and consequently our profitability. In addition, our inability to obtain sufficient supplies of propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas in order for us to fully meet our customer demand for these products on a timely basis could adversely affect our revenues, and consequently our profitability.

15


Table of Contents

In general, product supply contracts permit suppliers to charge posted prices at the time of delivery, or the current prices established at major supply points, including Mont Belvieu, Texas, and Conway, Kansas. We engage in transactions to manage the price risk associated with certain of our product costs from time to time in an attempt to reduce cost volatility and to help ensure availability of product. We can give no assurance that future increases in our costs to acquire and transport propane, fuel oil and natural gas will not have a material adverse effect on our profitability and cash flow, or that our available cash will be sufficient to pay principal and interest on our indebtedness and distributions to our Unitholders.

High prices for propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas can lead to customer conservation, resulting in reduced demand for our product.

Prices for propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas are subject to fluctuations in response to changes in wholesale prices and other market conditions beyond our control. Therefore, our average retail sales prices can vary significantly within a heating season, or from year to year, as wholesale prices fluctuate with propane, fuel oil and natural gas commodity market conditions. Therefore, our average retail sales prices can vary significantly within a heating season or from year to year as wholesale prices fluctuate with propane, fuel oil and natural gas commodity market conditions. During periods with high product costs for propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas, our selling prices generally increase. High prices can lead to customer conservation, resulting in reduced demand for our products.

Because of the highly competitive nature of the retail propane and fuel oil businesses, we may not be able to retain existing customers or acquire or attract new customers, which could have an adverse impact on our operating results and financial condition.

The retail propane and fuel oil industries are mature and highly competitive. We expect overall demand for propane and fuel oil to be relatively flat to moderately declining over the next several years. Year-to-year industry volumes of propane and fuel oil are expected to be primarily affected by weather patterns and from competition intensifying during warmer than normal winters, as well as from the impact of a sustained higher commodity price environment on customer conservation, and the impact of perceived uncertainty about the economy on customer buying habits.

Propane and fuel oil compete with electricity, natural gas and other existing and future sources of energy, some of which are, or may in the future be, less costly for equivalent energy value. For example, natural gas currently is a significantly less expensive source of energy than propane and fuel oil on an equivalent BTU basis. As a result, except for some industrial and commercial applications, propane and fuel oil are generally not economically competitive with natural gas in areas where natural gas pipelines already exist. The gradual expansion of the nation’s natural gas distribution systems has made natural gas available in many areas that previously depended upon propane or fuel oil. We expect this trend to continue, and, with the increasingly abundant supply of natural gas from domestic sources, perhaps accelerate. Propane and fuel oil compete to a lesser extent with each other due to the cost of converting from one source to the other.

In addition to competing with other sources of energy, our propane and fuel oil businesses compete with other distributors of those respective products principally on the basis of price, service and availability. Competition in the retail propane business is highly fragmented and generally occurs on a local basis with other large full-service multi-state propane marketers, thousands of smaller local independent marketers and farm cooperatives. Our fuel oil business competes with fuel oil distributors offering a broad range of services and prices, from full service distributors to those offering delivery only. In addition, our existing fuel oil customers, unlike our existing propane customers, generally own their own tanks, which can result in intensified competition for these customers.

As a result of the highly competitive nature of the retail propane and fuel oil businesses, our growth within these industries depends on our ability to acquire other well-run retail distributors, open new customer service centers, acquire or attract new customers and retain existing customers. We can give no assurance that we will be able to acquire other retail distributors, add new customers or retain existing customers.

Energy efficiency, general economic conditions and technological advances have affected and may continue to affect demand for propane and fuel oil by our retail customers.

The national trend toward increased conservation and technological advances, including installation of improved insulation and other advancements in building materials, as well as the development of more efficient furnaces and other heating and energy sources, has adversely affected the demand for propane and fuel oil by our retail customers which, in turn, has resulted in lower sales volumes to our customers. In addition, perceived uncertainty about the economy may lead to additional conservation by retail customers seeking to further reduce their heating costs, particularly during periods of sustained higher commodity prices. Future technological advances in heating, conservation and energy generation and continued economic weakness may adversely affect our volumes sold, which, in turn, may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

16


Table of Contents

Current conditions in the global capital and credit markets, and general economic pressures, may adversely affect our financial position and results of operations.

Our business and operating results are materially affected by worldwide economic conditions. Conditions in the global capital and credit markets, as well as general economic pressures, could impact consumer and/or business confidence and increase market volatility, which could negatively affect business activity generally. Current conditions in the global capital and credit markets and general economic pressures have led to wavering consumer and business confidence and increased market volatility, which have affected business activity generally. This situation, especially when coupled with increasing energy prices, may cause our customers to experience cash flow shortages which in turn may lead to delayed or cancelled plans to purchase our products, and affect the ability of our customers to pay for our products. In addition, any disruptions in the U.S. residential mortgage market (as a result of changes in tax laws or otherwise) and the rate of mortgage foreclosures may adversely affect retail customer demand for our products (in particular, products used for home heating and home comfort equipment) and our business and results of operations.

We may not be able to attract and retain qualified employees or find, develop and retain key employees to support and grow our business, which may adversely affect our business and results of operations.

Like most companies in the markets in which we operate, we are continuously challenged in attracting, developing and retaining a sufficient number of employees to operate our businesses throughout our operating geographies, particularly with regard to our driver and technician positions. Our industry in general, as well as the overall trucking industry, is currently experiencing a shortage of qualified drivers and technicians that is exacerbated by several factors, including:

an overall market where high driver turnover exists due to an increased number of alternative employment opportunities;

increased competition for drivers and technicians in the industry, which impacts compensation for those positions;

a changing workforce demographic with a lack of younger employees who are qualified to join or replace aging drivers and technicians as they retire; and

ongoing COVID-19 related issues that negatively impact employee retention, turnover rates and eligible candidate pools for key positions such as our drivers and technicians.

We may also have difficulty recruiting and retaining new employees beyond our driver and technician positions with adequate qualifications and experience. The challenge of hiring new employees at times is further exacerbated by the rural nature of our business, which provides for a smaller pool of skilled employee candidates who meet our hiring criteria and the licensing and qualification requirements that may exist for certain types of positions such as our driver and technician positions. If we are unable to continue to attract and retain a sufficient number of new employees or retain existing employees with the technical skills upon which our business depends, we may be forced to adjust our compensation packages to pay higher wages, or offer other benefits that might impact our cost of labor, or force us at times to operate with fewer employees and face difficulties in meeting delivery demands for our customers, any of which could adversely affect our profitability and results of operations.

We are dependent on our senior management and other key personnel.

Our success depends on our senior management team and other key personnel with technical skills upon which our business depends and our ability to effectively identify, attract, retain and motivate high quality employees, and replace those who retire or resign. We believe that we have an experienced and highly qualified senior management team and the loss of service of any one or more of these key personnel could have a significant adverse impact on our operations and our future profitability. Failure to retain and motivate our senior management team and to hire, retain and develop other important personnel could generally impact other levels of our management and operations, ability to execute our strategies and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

The risk of terrorism, political unrest and the current hostilities in the Middle East or other energy producing regions may adversely affect the economy and the price and availability of propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas.

Terrorist attacks, political unrest and hostilities in the Middle East or other energy producing regions could likely lead to increased volatility in the price and availability of propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas, as well as our results of operations, our ability to raise capital and our future growth. The impact that the foregoing may have on our industry in general, and on us in particular, is not known at this time. An act of terror could result in disruptions of crude oil or natural gas supplies and markets (the sources of propane and fuel oil), and our infrastructure facilities could be direct or indirect targets. Terrorist activity may also hinder our ability to transport propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels if our means of supply transportation, such as rail or pipeline, become damaged as a result of an attack. A lower level of economic activity could result in a decline in energy consumption, which could adversely impact our revenues or restrict our future growth. Instability in the financial markets as a result of terrorism could also affect our ability to raise capital. We have opted to purchase insurance coverage for terrorist acts within our property and casualty insurance programs, but we can give no assurance that our insurance coverage will be adequate to fully compensate us for any losses to our business or property resulting from terrorist acts.

17


Table of Contents

Our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected by governmental regulation and associated environmental and health and safety costs.

Our business is subject to a wide and ever-increasing range of federal, state and local laws and regulations related to environmental, health and safety matters; including those concerning, among other things, the investigation and remediation of contaminated soil, groundwater and other environmental resources, the transportation of hazardous materials and guidelines and other mandates with regard to the health and safety of our employees and customers. These requirements are complex, changing and tend to become more stringent over time. In addition, we are required to maintain various permits that are necessary to operate our facilities and equipment, some of which are material to our operations. In addition, we are required to maintain various permits that are 12 Table of Contents necessary to operate our facilities, some of which are material to our operations. There can be no assurance that we have been, or will be, at all times in complete compliance with all legal, regulatory and permitting requirements or that we will not incur significant costs in the future relating to such requirements. Violations could result in penalties, or the curtailment or cessation of operations.

Moreover, currently unknown environmental issues, such as the discovery of contamination, could result in significant expenditures, including the need to comply with future changes to environmental laws and regulations or the interpretation or enforcement thereof. Such expenditures, if required, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The ability of AES to acquire and retain retail natural gas and electricity customers is highly competitive, price sensitive and may be impacted by changes in state regulations.

The deregulated retail natural gas and electricity industries in which AES participates are highly competitive. New York has instituted major new regulation of these industries, and other states have changed business rules to provide further protections to consumers. New York has proposed major new regulation of these industries, and other states have changed business rules to provide further protections to consumers. An Order from the New York Public Service Commission (“NY PSC“) regarding low income consumers went into effect in 2018 and required that all energy service companies (“ESCOs”) stop serving low-income consumers. As a result, AES returned approximately 7,900 of our customers to local utility service. A second order (“Reset Order”) issued by the NY PSC in 2016 attempted to impose rules that would have allowed the NY PSC to regulate ESCO pricing, which was subsequently challenged and struck down by the New York Supreme Court. On appeal, the New York State Court of Appeals issued a ruling in 2019 that held that the NY PSC cannot regulate ESCO pricing, but does have the ability to restrict an ESCO’s access to the utility distribution system if the NY PSC determines that an ESCO’s pricing is not “just and reasonable.” In December 2019, the NY PSC issued an Order that imposed product, pricing, and other requirements on ESCOs (“Second Reset Order”). AES was specifically and solely exempted from complying with the criteria concerning product offerings during the pendency of further rulemaking proceedings. In September 2020, the NY PSC issued another Order reaffirming the Second Reset Order, including the exemption that allows AES to maintain its existing business model in New York while rulemaking proceedings continue.

Separately, the State of New York issued a State of Emergency Order in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the New York State of Emergency Order for COVID-19 ended in June 2021, other state of emergency orders were issued in July 2021 and remain in effect. Under New York laws, telemarketers are prevented from making sales calls during states of emergency. As a result, AES halted all telemarketing sales efforts in New York in March 2020, and this condition continues to remain in effect as of the date of this Annual Report. At this time, we are unable to predict the ultimate outcome of the rulemaking, or the impact of such eventual outcome on AES’ business, but it could impact the ability of AES to acquire and retain natural gas and electricity customers.

These industries have also seen an increase in the number of class action lawsuits brought against retailers and relating to their pricing policies and practices. Two such lawsuits were commenced against AES in 2017 and 2018, involving New York and Pennsylvania customers. AES filed motions to dismiss both actions on procedural and substantive grounds. The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted AES’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice, finding that AES did not breach its contract or defraud customers. In August of 2020, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s complaint. In the New York action, the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York granted AES’ dismissal motion in part in October 2018, but allowed plaintiff’s statutory consumer fraud and breach of contract causes of action to proceed. In the New York action, the federal district court granted AES’ dismissal motion in part in October 2018, but allowed plaintiff’s statutory consumer fraud and breach of contract causes of action to proceed. While AES believes the remaining claims in the New York action are devoid of merit and intends to vigorously defend itself in the matter, we are unable to predict at this time the ultimate outcome of the New York action. However, if we are ultimately unable to successfully defend our AES business in this class action lawsuit, a decision rendered against AES could have an adverse impact on our business and operations.

Costs associated with lawsuits, investigations or increases in legal reserves that we establish based on our assessment of contingent liabilities could adversely affect our operating results to the extent not covered by insurance.

Our operations expose us to various claims, lawsuits and other legal proceedings that arise in and outside of the ordinary course of our business. We may be subject to complaints and/or litigation involving our customers, employees and others with whom we conduct business, including claims for bodily injury, death and property damage related to operating hazards and risks normally associated with handling, storing and delivering combustible liquids such as propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels or claims based

18


Table of Contents

on allegations of discrimination, wage and hourly pay disputes, and various other claims as a result of other aspects of our business. We could be subject to substantial costs and/or adverse outcomes from such complaints or litigation, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, cash flows or results of operations.

From time to time, our Partnership and/or other companies in the segments in which we operate may be reviewed or investigated by government regulators, which could lead to tax assessments, enforcement actions, fines and penalties or the assertion of private litigation claims. It is not possible to predict with certainty the outcome of claims, investigations and lawsuits, and we could in the future incur judgments, taxes, fines or penalties, or enter into settlements of lawsuits or claims that could have an adverse impact on our financial condition or results of operations. We are self-insured for general and product, workers’ compensation and automobile liabilities up to predetermined amounts above which third-party insurance applies. We are self-insured for general and product, workers’ compensation and 13 Table of Contents automobile liabilities up to predetermined amounts above which third-party insurance applies. We cannot guarantee that our insurance will be adequate to protect us from all material expenses related to potential future claims for personal injury and property damage or that these levels of insurance will be available at economical prices, or that all legal matters that arise will be covered by our insurance programs.

As required by U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”), we establish reserves based on our assessment of actual or potential loss contingencies, including contingencies related to legal claims asserted against us. Subsequent developments may affect our assessment and estimates of such loss contingencies and require us to make payments in excess of our reserves, which could have an adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations.

If we are unable to make acquisitions on economically acceptable terms or effectively integrate such acquisitions into our operations, our financial performance may be adversely affected.

The retail propane and fuel oil industries are mature. We expect overall demand for propane and fuel oil to be relatively flat to moderately declining over the next several years. With respect to our retail propane business, it may be difficult for us to increase our aggregate number of retail propane customers except through acquisitions. As a result, we may engage in strategic transactions involving the acquisition of, or investment in, other retail propane and fuel oil distributors, other energy-related businesses or other related cross-functional lines of business. The competition for these acquisitions is intense and we can make no assurance that we will be able to successfully acquire other businesses on economically acceptable terms or, if we do, that we can integrate the operations of acquired businesses effectively or to realize the expected benefits of such transactions within the anticipated timeframe, or at all, such as cost savings, synergies, sales and growth opportunities. In addition, the integration of an acquired business may result in material unanticipated challenges, expenses, liabilities or competitive responses, including:

a failure to implement our strategy for a particular strategic transaction, including successfully integrating the acquired business into our existing infrastructure, or a failure to realize value from a strategic investment;

inconsistencies between our standards, procedures and policies and those of the acquired business;

costs or inefficiencies associated with the integration of our operational and administrative systems;

an increased scope and complexity of our operations which could require significant attention from management and could impose constraints on our operations or other projects;

unforeseen expenses, delays or conditions, including required regulatory or other third-party approvals or consents, or provisions in contracts with third parties that could limit our flexibility to take certain actions;

an inability to retain the customers, employees, suppliers and/or business partners of the acquired business or generate new customers or revenue opportunities through a strategic transaction;

the costs of compliance with local laws and regulations and the implementation of compliance processes, as well as the assumption of unexpected liabilities, litigation, penalties or other enforcement actions; and

higher than expected costs arising due to unforeseen changes in tax, trade, environmental, labor, safety, payroll or pension policies.

Any one of these factors could result in delays, increased costs or decreases in the amount of expected revenues related to combining the businesses or derived from a strategic transaction and could adversely impact our financial condition or results of operations.

The adoption of climate change legislation could negatively impact our operations and result in increased operating costs and reduced demand for the products and services we provide.

The EPA issued an Endangerment Finding under the federal Clean Air Act, which determined that emissions of GHGs, such as carbon dioxide, present an endangerment to public health and the environment because emissions of such gases may be contributing to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere, volatility in seasonal temperatures, increased frequency and severity of storms, floods and other climatic changes. Based on these findings, the EPA has begun adopting and implementing regulations to restrict emissions of GHGs from certain industries and require reporting by certain regulated facilities. The EPA’s authority to regulate GHGs has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The new presidential administration has appointed new leadership at the EPA that is expected to

19


Table of Contents

result in the prioritization of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures and a push for significant reduction in GHG emissions.

Both Houses of the United States Congress also have considered adopting legislation to reduce emissions of GHGs. While the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law in November 2021 does not impose GHG emissions reductions, it provides measures of protection against climate change disasters, including investments in clean energy. Although Congress has not yet enacted comprehensive federal legislation to address climate change, numerous states and municipalities have adopted laws and policies on climate change and GHG emission reduction targets. Although Congress has not yet enacted comprehensive federal legislation to address climate change, numerous states and municipalities have adopted laws and policies on climate change and GHG emission reduction targets. For example, in July 2019, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act was signed into law in New York, establishing a statewide climate action framework which includes a target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

While propane is considered a clean alternative source of energy, and demand for propane may increase over other non-renewable sources of energy if new climate change legislation is enacted, the adoption of federal, state or local climate change legislation or regulatory programs to reduce emissions of GHGs could require us to incur increased capital and operating costs, with resulting impact on product price and demand. We cannot predict whether, when or in what form climate change legislation provisions and renewable energy standards may be enacted and what the impact of any such legislation or standards may have on our business, financial conditions or operations in the future. We cannot predict whether, when or in what form climate change legislation provisions and renewable energy standards may be enacted. In addition, a possible consequence of climate change is increased volatility in seasonal temperatures. It is difficult to predict how the market for our fuels would be affected by increased temperature volatility, although if there is an overall trend of warmer winter temperatures, it could adversely affect our business.

Our use of derivative contracts involves credit and regulatory risk and may expose us to financial loss.

From time to time, we enter into hedging transactions to reduce our business risks arising from fluctuations in commodity prices and interest rates. Hedging transactions expose us to risk of financial loss in some circumstances, including if the other party to the contract defaults on its obligations to us or if there is a change in the expected differential between the price of the underlying commodity or financial metric provided in the hedging agreement and the actual amount received. Transactional, margin, capital, recordkeeping, reporting, clearing and other requirements imposed on parties to derivatives transactions as a result of legislation and related rulemaking may increase our operational and transactional cost of entering into and maintaining derivatives contracts and may adversely affect the number and/or creditworthiness of derivatives counterparties available to us. If we were to reduce our use of derivatives as a result of regulatory burdens or otherwise, our results of operations could become more volatile and our cash flow could be less predictable.

We face risks related to our reliance on particular management information systems and communication networks to effectively manage all aspects of our delivery of propane.

We depend heavily on the performance and availability of our management information systems, websites and network infrastructure to attract and retain customers, process orders, manage inventory and accounts receivable collections, maintain distributor and customer information, maintain cost-efficient operations, assist in delivering our products on a timely basis and otherwise conduct our business. We have centralized our information systems and we rely on third-party communications service and system providers to provide technology services and link our systems with the business locations these systems were designed to serve. Any failure or disruption in the availability or operation of those management information systems, loss of employees knowledgeable about such systems, termination of our relationship with one or more of these key third-party providers or failure to continue to modify such systems effectively as our business expands could create negative publicity that damages our reputation or otherwise adversely impact our ability to manage our business effectively. We may experience system interruptions or disruptions for a variety of reasons, including as the result of network failures, power outages, cyber-attacks, employee errors, software errors, an unusually high volume of visitors attempting to access our systems, or localized conditions such as fire, explosions or power outages or broader geographic events such as earthquakes, storms, floods, epidemics, strikes, acts of war, civil unrest or terrorist acts. We may experience system interruptions or disruptions for a variety of reasons, including as the result of network failures, power outages, cyber attacks, employee errors, software errors, an unusually high volume of visitors attempting to access our systems, or localized conditions such as fire, explosions or power outages or broader geographic events such as earthquakes, storms, floods, epidemics, strikes, acts of war, civil unrest or terrorist acts. Because we are dependent in part on independent third parties for the implementation and maintenance of certain aspects of our systems and because some of the causes of system interruptions may be outside of our control, we may not be able to remedy such interruptions in a timely manner, or at all. Our systems’ business continuity plans and insurance programs seek to mitigate such risks, but they cannot fully eliminate the risks as a failure or disruption could be experienced in any of our information systems.

We face risks related to cybersecurity breaches of our systems and information technology.

Cybersecurity threats to network and data security are becoming increasingly diverse and sophisticated. As threats become more frequent, intense and sophisticated, the costs of proactive defensive measures may increase as we seek to continue to protect our management information systems, websites and network. Third parties may have the technology or expertise to breach the security that we use to protect our customer transaction data and our security measures may not prevent physical security or cybersecurity

20


Table of Contents

breaches, which could result in significant harm to our business, our reputation or our results of operations. We rely on encryption and/or authentication technology licensed from and, at times, administered by independent third parties to secure transmission of confidential information, including personally identifiable information. Our outsourcing agreements with these third-party service providers generally require that they utilize adequate security systems to protect our confidential information. However, advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries in the field of cryptography or other cybersecurity developments could render our security systems and information technology, or those used by our third-party service providers, vulnerable to a breach. In addition, anyone who is able to circumvent our security measures could misappropriate proprietary information or cause interruptions in our operations. Risks of cybersecurity incidents caused by malicious third parties using sophisticated, targeted methods to circumvent firewalls, encryption, and other security defenses, could include hacking, viruses, malicious software, ransomware, phishing attacks, denial of service attacks and other attempts to capture, disrupt or gain unauthorized access to data are rapidly evolving and could lead to disruptions in our management information systems, websites or other data processing systems, unauthorized release of confidential or otherwise protected information or corruption of data. The techniques used by third parties change frequently and may be difficult to detect for long periods of time. In addition, dependence upon automated systems may further increase the risk that operational system flaws, employee tampering or manipulation of those systems will result in losses that are difficult to detect or recoup. To the extent customer data is hacked or misappropriated, we could be subject to liability to affected persons. Any successful efforts by individuals to infiltrate, break into, disrupt, damage or otherwise steal from us or our third-party service providers’ security or information systems could damage our reputation and expose us to increased costs, litigation or other liability that could adversely impact our financial condition or results of operations.

RISKS RELATED TO OUR INDEBTEDNESS AND ACCESS TO CAPITAL

We face risks related to our current and future debt obligations that may limit our ability to make distributions to Unitholders, as well as our financial flexibility.

As of September 25, 2021, our long-term debt consisted of $350.0 million in aggregate principal amount of 5.875% senior notes due March 1, 2027, $650.0 million in aggregate principal amount of 5.0% senior notes due June 1, 2031 and $132.0 million outstanding under our $500.0 million senior secured revolving credit facility. The payment of principal and interest on our debt will reduce the cash available to make distributions on our Common Units. In addition, we will not be able to make any distributions to holders of our Common Units if there is, or after giving effect to such distribution, there would be, an event of default under the indentures governing the senior notes or the senior secured revolving credit facility. The amount of distributions that we may make to holders of our Common Units is limited by the senior notes, and the amount of distributions that the Operating Partnership may make to us is limited by our revolving credit facility.

The revolving credit facility and the senior notes both contain various restrictive and affirmative covenants applicable to us, the Operating Partnership and its subsidiaries, respectively, including (i) restrictions on the incurrence of additional indebtedness, and (ii) restrictions on certain liens, investments, guarantees, loans, advances, payments, mergers, consolidations, distributions, sales of assets and other transactions. The revolving credit facility contains certain financial covenants:

requiring our consolidated interest coverage ratio, as defined, to be not less than 2.5 to 1.0 as of the end of any fiscal quarter;

prohibiting our total consolidated leverage ratio, as defined, from being greater than 5.75 to 1.0 as of the end of any fiscal quarter;

prohibiting the senior secured consolidated leverage ratio, as defined, of the Operating Partnership from being greater than 3.25 to 1.0 as of the end of any fiscal quarter.

Under the indentures governing the senior notes, we are generally permitted to make cash distributions equal to available cash, as defined, as of the end of the immediately preceding quarter, if no event of default exists or would exist upon making such distributions, and our consolidated fixed charge coverage ratio, as defined, is greater than 1.75 to 1. We and the Operating Partnership were in compliance with all covenants and terms of the senior notes and the revolving credit facility as of September 25, 2021.

The amount and terms of our debt may also adversely affect our ability to finance future operations and capital needs, limit our ability to pursue acquisitions and other business opportunities and make our results of operations more susceptible to adverse economic and industry conditions. In addition to our outstanding indebtedness, we may in the future require additional debt to finance acquisitions or for general business purposes; however, credit market conditions may impact our ability to access such financing. If we are unable to access needed financing or to generate sufficient cash from operations, we may be required to abandon certain projects or curtail capital expenditures. Additional debt, where it is available, could result in an increase in our leverage. Our ability to make principal and interest payments depends on our future performance, which is subject to many factors, some of which are beyond our control. As interest expense increases (whether due to an increase in interest rates and/or the size of aggregate outstanding

21


Table of Contents

debt), our ability to fund distributions on our Common Units may be impacted, depending on the level of revenue generation, which is not assured.

Our operating results and ability to generate sufficient cash flow to pay principal and interest on our indebtedness, and to pay distributions to Unitholders, may be affected by our ability to continue to control expenses.

The propane and fuel oil industries are mature and highly fragmented with competition from other multi-state marketers and thousands of smaller local independent marketers. Demand for propane and fuel oil is expected to be affected by many factors beyond our control, including, but not limited to, the severity and length of weather conditions during the peak heating season, customer energy conservation driven by high energy costs and other economic factors, as well as technological advances impacting energy efficiency. Accordingly, our propane and fuel oil sales volumes and related gross margins may be negatively affected by these factors beyond our control. Our operating profits and ability to generate sufficient cash flow may depend on our ability to continue to control expenses in line with sales volumes. Our operating profits and ability to generate sufficient cash flow may depend on our ability to continue to control 16 Table of Contents expenses in line with sales volumes. We can give no assurance that we will be able to continue to control expenses to the extent necessary to reduce any negative impact on our profitability and cash flow from these factors.

Disruptions in the capital and credit markets, including the availability and cost of debt and equity issuances for liquidity requirements, may adversely affect our ability to meet long-term commitments and our ability to hedge effectively, any of which could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.

We rely on our ability to access the capital and credit markets at rates and terms reasonable to us. A disruption in the capital and credit markets or increased volatility could impair our ability to access capital and credit markets at rates and terms acceptable to us or not at all. A disruption in the capital and credit markets could impair our ability to access capital and credit markets at rates and terms acceptable to us or not at all. This could limit our ability to refinance long-term debt at or in advance of maturities or could force us to access capital and credit markets at rates or terms normally considered to be unreasonable.

RISKS RELATED TO OUR COMMON UNITS

Cash distributions are not guaranteed and may fluctuate with our performance and other external factors.

Cash distributions on our Common Units are not guaranteed, and depend primarily on our cash flow and our cash on hand. Because they are not directly dependent on profitability, which is affected by non-cash items, our cash distributions might be made during periods when we record losses and might not be made during periods when we record profits.

The amount of cash we generate may fluctuate based on our performance and other factors, including:

the impact of the risks inherent in our business operations, as described above;

required principal and interest payments on our debt and restrictions contained in our debt instruments;

issuances of debt and equity securities;