On Tuesday, July 7 Powder River Basin Resource Council will continue its webinar series, Reclaiming & Growing Wyoming’s Future, providing education, tools, and resources available for a planned transition to a new, diversified Wyoming economy. Each session features different panelists with specific areas of expertise in transitioning resource-dependent communities.

In this third webinar, Securitization: A Finance Tool for Energy Transition, Uday Varadarajan, economist with Rocky Mountain Institute, and Max Backlund, senior research associate for the Kem C. Gardner Institute at the University of Utah will present securitization as a tool to fund energy transition.  The moderator will be Dr. Elizabeth Stanton, founder and director of the Applied Economics Clinic.

As electric utilities look to retire uneconomic coal plants and transition to cleaner and more affordable renewable energy sources, retiring coal plants early can leave utilities with unrecovered investment balances on their books. While early retirements can save consumers money by replacing coal with less expensive sources of energy, paying down the remaining value of investments all at once could increase consumer rates. This webinar will serve as an introduction to securitization, a tool that policymakers and regulators can authorize to avoid utility rate increases from coal plant retirements. Securitization bonds can also be used to help communities take advantage of the opportunities in, and weather the challenges of, the rapidly changing economics of the electricity sector. This tool has recently been authorized in Montana, New Mexico, and Colorado.

The webinar is free but requires advance registration, and attendance is capped at 150. Registration is available at  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5892629567229641740. The July 7 session will begin at 10 am and features a panel discussion followed by a question-and-answer period.

Anyone with an interest in understanding how Wyoming’s communities can transition from dependency on resource extraction to a healthy, diverse economy is encouraged to attend any or all of the webinars. The fourth and final session, Funding Wyoming’s Economic Transition will be July 21 at 10 am. A registration link will be available soon on Powder River’s website.

For more information on the webinar series, visit www.powderriverbasin.org, email mirwin@powderriverbasin.org or call 307-672-5809.

July 7 Webinar Speaker Bios:

Max Backlund is a senior research associate at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, where he specializes in regional economics and economic development. Max began his career at the Economic Development Corporation of Utah where he founded the Community Strategy Department, which provides economic data, strategic planning tools, and marketing products to more than 70 Utah cities and counties. He also developed Utah Community Builders, a foundation focused on social issues with a connection to the business community, at the Salt Lake Chamber. His work experience includes research into economic development, corporate recruitment and expansion, transportation, intergenerational poverty, mental health, family leave, child care, and immigration.

Uday Varadarajan is a Principal in the Electricity Practice at Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and a Precourt Energy Scholar at the Sustainable Finance Initiative (SFI) at Stanford University, where his work focuses on how to use cutting edge data and financial, policy, and regulatory analysis to help drive a just transition to clean energy. Prior to moving to RMI and SFI, Uday was a Principal at CPI Energy Finance, managing their San Francisco team. At CPI, he led the development of innovative financial, regulatory, and policy data analytics and tools that are helping consumers, utilities, and communities in states across the U.S. realize the benefits from a just and equitable transition to clean energy. Prior to joining CPI, Uday was a program examiner in the U.S. White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where he oversaw the $2 billion budget for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

Dr. Elizabeth Stanton is the founder and director of the Applied Economics Clinic. With more than 19 years of experience in the field, Dr. Stanton has an extensive publication record, including more than 140 reports, journal articles, books and book chapters as well as more than 40 expert comments and oral and written testimony in public proceedings on topics related to energy, the economy, the environment, and equity.