Cost model: Nuclear power plant and decommissioning liability

These examples accompany, but are not part of, IFRIC 1.

Common facts

An entity has a nuclear power plant and a related decommissioning liability. The nuclear power plant started operating on 1 January 2000. The plant has a useful life of 40 years. Its initial cost was CU120,0001; this included an amount for decommissioning costs of CU10,000, which represented CU70,400 in estimated cash flows payable in 40 years discounted at a risk-adjusted rate of 5 per cent. The entity’s financial year ends on 31 December.

Example: Cost model

On 31 December 2009, the plant is 10 years old. Accumulated depreciation is CU30,000 (CU120,000 x 10/40 years). Because of the unwinding of discount (5 per cent) over the 10 years, the decommissioning liability has grown from CU10,000 to CU16,300.

On 31 December 2009, the discount rate has not changed. However, the entity estimates that, as a result of technological advances, the net present value of the decommissioning liability has decreased by CU8,000. Accordingly, the entity adjusts the decommissioning liability from CU16,300 to CU8,300. On this date, the entity makes the following journal entry to reflect the change:

Dr Decommissioning liability 8,000
Cr Cost of asset 8,000

Following this adjustment, the carrying amount of the asset is CU82,000 (CU120,000 – CU8,000 – CU30,000), which will be depreciated over the remaining 30 years of the asset’s life giving a depreciation expense for the next year of CU2,733 (CU82,000 ÷ 30). The next year’s finance cost for the unwinding of the discount will be CU415 (CU8,300 x 5 per cent).

If the change in the liability had resulted from a change in the discount rate, instead of a change in the estimated cash flows, the accounting for the change would have been the same but the next year’s finance cost would have reflected the new discount rate.