Securitization to Accelerate the Energy Transition
Now that wind and solar resources are achieving cost parity (assuming potential import tariffs don’t change the equation), why don’t those pesky less economic coal plants go away? On today’s episode, Uday Varadarajan of the Climate Policy Initiative and Harriet Moyer Aptekar of Crest Consulting discus the potential for utilities to use securitization via utility bond financing to address utility accounting and rate base erosion issues that stand in the way of retiring old, uneconomic coal plants.
We’ve talked about how some coal plants are losing out in wholesale energy markets due to lower-cost natural gas resources, among other reasons. It’s a different story in states that remain vertically integrated with utilities that do not participate in centralized wholesale markets. In these vertically integrated states, costs for power plant investments are recovered through retail customer bills over the “useful life” of the assets, often 30 years. Sometimes, even if plants are operating at inefficient or uncompetitive costs, a utility’s need or desire to maintain the coal plant as rate base are the main reason they stay in operation.
So what if we can change that equation? What if we can use private financing to get utilities on board with coal plant retirement? Today we talk about efforts to do just that.