New laws passed across the country allow customer-backed bonds to pay off stranded coal assets in favor of renewables, but utilities are hesitant.

With the cost of building new renewables now lower than the costof operating most existing coal plants, the major remaining obstacle to this energy transition is resolving the financial burden of stranded coal assets.

State legislation — like bills recently passed in Montana, Colorado and New Mexico — can give coal-owning utilities the option to issue bonds secured bythe certainty of customers paying their bills. This financial strategy, called securitization, has attracted over $50 billion from investors to resolve other utility obligations, and can be used to pay off stranded coal assets.