The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) anticipates that rooftop solar power will be at parity with local retail electric prices by 2017 in more than half of the states across the U.S. This is a lot quicker than some thought we would reach this threshold and shows the continued declines in prices people are seeing as solar becomes more popular.
“Small-scale solar photovoltaic systems on rooftops have suddenly become the most commonly built, most numerous electric generators, with individuals making decisions based on the cost of the solar panels and the price of their local electric utility,” writes Mike Jacobs, senior energy analyst, with the UCS’ Climate & Energy Program.
The UCS is now estimating that solar is as cheap as grid power on homes in 11 states: California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine as well as the District of Columbia. The cost of solar combined with financing and the federal tax credit are starting to make solar less expensive than grid power. In addition the UCS finds that 17 more states are within three years of this tipping point. They include Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Louisiana, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and more.
USC reached the conclusions based on two National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analyses of break-even for an investment in solar panels compared with the residential rate for electricity. In the studies NREL looked at locally available sunshine, electricity price projections, assuming an annual escalation of 0.5% per year. However, UCS said the report did not look at when the break even point for solar power was.
“What was really missing from these NREL studies is a projection of when the break-even point is likely to be reached,” Jacobs says. “Not faulting the lab, just saying that when UCS compared the NREL numbers on break-even costs and other organizations’ projections of prices, this all became more clear.…Now anyone can look at the map and see there are going to be some changes coming.”
The analysis also avoids using state incentive programs and other local support, which makes the estimations somewhat conservative.Tweet