Sierra Club Report: New Financial Tools for Coal Utilities to Help Cost Effectively Transition to Clean Energy


Brian Willis, 202.675.2386,

White paper hyperlinked here

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sierra Club released an energy transition white paper today showing utilities and electricity market stakeholders how to harness financial tools to cost effectively accelerate the timeline for coal plant retirements, and build out cheap clean energy resources like solar and wind. The paper outlines how energy professionals can use financial tools like green tariffs, securitization, and capital recycling to take advantage of the cost savings associated with coal phase out, while also balancing the needs of all utility stakeholders and encouraging new investments.  

“Coal plants are no longer competitive in most of the United States and the utility industry needs new tools and strategies to help them transition to cleaner, cheaper energy resources like solar and wind. This paper shows utility executives that even in situations where coal plants were financed more than 40 years ago in vastly different electricity markets, there are still economic, ‘win-win’ scenarios for ratepayers and utilities using innovative tools from the financial sector,” said Jeremy Fisher, Senior Strategy and Technical Advisor at Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program. “With 279 coal fired power plants retired or announced for retirement since 2010, and the cost of clean energy technology dropping rapidly, it’s clear that utility executives need a rapid exit path for their remaining coal plants. In this white paper, we show that what’s good for ratepayers can also be good for utility investors and for vulnerable communities suffering under coal pollution.

The paper highlights a variety of existing and emerging financing tools that are designed to reduce costs and efficiently transition utilities from dirty to clean energy without burdening electricity customers, or reducing the investment value for utility owners. The application of these tools can help interested electricity market stakeholders to more easily prepare for the United States’ clean energy future.

“Financial innovations and best practices in the clean energy sector have been the backbone of solar and wind industries’ impressive growth, and this paper shares how to use them effectively to make a good idea into a wonderful reality,” Fisher said. “Across the country, clean energy is the most economic choice when it comes to providing the cheapest option to electricity customers. This paper digs deep to show stakeholders, utilities, and regulators how to harness both existing and emerging tools to ease the pathway toward low-cost clean energy.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit