NewEnergyNews: ORIGINAL REPORTING: ROOFTOP SOLAR IS NOW CHEAPER THAN THE GRID IN 42 AMERICAN CITIES

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

December 7, 1941: Time to forgive but not forget.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • TODAY’S STUDY: How To Balance Competing Solar Interests
  • QUICK NEWS, December 6: Sliver Of Hope? Al Gore In Climate Change Meet With Donald Trump; The Opportunity In New Energy; Google Seizing New Energy Opportunity
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: A Way For New Energy To Meet Peak Demand
  • QUICK NEWS, December 5: Trial Of The Century Coming On Climate; The Wind-Solar Synergy; The Still Rising Sales Of Cars With Plugs
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Trump Truth And Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: The Daily Show Talks Pipeline Politics
  • Weekend Video: Beyond Polar Bears – The Real Science Of Climate Change
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Aussie Farmers Worrying About Climate Change
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Change Solution At Hand, Part 1
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Change Solution At Hand, Part 2
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy And Historic Buildings In Europe
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, December 1:

  • TTTA Thursday-First Daughter Ivanka May Fight For Climate
  • TTTA Thursday-Low Profile High Power Ocean Wind Energy
  • TTTA Thursday-A Visionary Solar Power Plant
  • TTTA Thursday-EVs Have A Growth Path
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: How The Clean Power Plan Drove The Utility Power Mix Transition
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: How Utilities Are Answering The Distributed Energy Resources Challenge
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Looking At New Rates To Unlock The Utility Of The Future
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, December 7:

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Turning Distributed Energy From Threat To Opportunity
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar Policy Action Heats Up
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Maine’s Almost Solar Policy Breakthrough

    Wednesday, May 13, 2015

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: ROOFTOP SOLAR IS NOW CHEAPER THAN THE GRID IN 42 AMERICAN CITIES

    Rooftop solar is now cheaper than the grid in 42 American cities; Escalating utility rates lose out to solar’s fixed price

    Herman K. Trabish, January 14, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    New numbers show solar-generated electricity is ready for head-on competition with utility-delivered electricity.

    Nearly 21 million single-family homeowners in 42 of the 50 biggest U.S. cities can now expect to pay less for electricity from solar than for electricity they buy from their utility.

    In fact, the numbers show money spent on a residential solar system earns a better return than investing in Standard and Poor’s 500 index fund.

    “Solar is now not just an option for the rich, but a real opportunity for anyone looking to take greater control over their monthly utility bills and make a long-term, relatively low-risk investment,” explains "Going Solar in America: Ranking Solar’s Value to Consumers in America’s Largest Cities," a new study from the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center.

    The information gap

    To breach the “clear information gap” between the popular presumption that solar energy is an expensive indulgence and the new reality that it is a competitively priced source of electricity, the paper uses a range of National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) System Advisor Model (SAM) parameters and other factors to calculate rankings. The list for the top 50 solar cities was based on:

    First-year average monthly savings

    Net present value (NPV) relative to a 25 year investment in the S&P 500 stock index

    Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) compared to the cost of electricity from the local utility

    “We decided to use first year savings because NREL research shows customers tend to be more responsive to something that gives them greater benefits more quickly,” explained Senior Policy Analyst and report co-author Jim Kennerly.

    Solar’s NPV was calculated for a 5 kilowatt system purchased with a 25-year, 5% loan and compared to an S&P 500 index with assumed SAM default parameters of a 6.61% annualized and dividend reinvested discount rate. It assumed a 2.7% inflation rate.

    Kilowatt-hours from that same system now cost less than those from a residential customer’s local utility. “Of the single-family homeowners in America’s 50 largest cities,” according to the report, “9.1 million already live in a city where solar costs less than their current utility [retail] rates if they bought a PV system outright – and nearly 21 million (93% of all estimated single-family homeowners [that are customers of the utilities that serve] those cities) do if low-cost financing is available.”

    A companion report, "Going Solar in America: A Guide for Homeowners Considering Solar PV in America’s 50 Largest Cities," explains how homeowners can take advantage of the solar opportunity.

    Solar’s LCOE was based on SAM parameters, beginning with insolation, and was compared with Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts of utility rate increases of between 33% and 83%, depending on the city, over the 25-year PV system life.

    “The average LCOE for a fully financed solar system in the country’s largest cities ranges from only $0.031 per kWh [Washington, D.C.] to $0.144 per kWh [Louisville, KY],” the researchers found.

    The conclusion was straightforward. “If getting value for solar generation is tied to the retail rate, you are going to get to a very strong value proposition,” Kennerly said, “because utility rates tend to escalate reasonably predictably.”

    The 'many reasons' homeowners go solar

    “There are many reasons people will go solar, like environmental or energy security concerns, but we chose to look at these financial things because money is the one that gets people to act,” said co-author Autumn Proudlove. “Just talking money, solar is a good option for the average person right now.”

    “Solar PV helps them lock in a set rate for a certain amount of their electricity for a long period of time,” Kennerly said. “By doing that, they save a great deal of money compared to what they would have paid in the future, given thatrates are going up.”

    “Monthly electric bill savings are calculated as the difference between an average customer’s bill with solar and what the same customer’s bill would have been without solar,” the report explains. “The utilities whose customers see the greatest monthly dollar savings are Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, Arizona Public Service, and NSTAR.”

    “We are also seeing declines in the cost of solar. That really makes the financial case,” Proudlove added. “And if you look at the soft costs, which are the biggest part of the cost of solar right now, if you can attack those and reduce them, it will make the value greater.”

    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) put the 1998 median cost of residential solar at $12 per watt and the 2013 cost at $4.70 per watt, the researchers report. Data from the online solar marketplace EnergySage puts the Q3 2014 average cost without incentives at between $3.70 per watt and $4.24 per watt.

    The best and worst cities for solar

    The city rankings demonstrate solar insolation is not determinative. The only three cities to score over 25 points (out of the possible 30 points) were New York (26.12), Boston (25.51), and Albuquerque, NM (25.30). Each has 4 of 5 policy supports. New York and Boston provide sales and property tax exemptions and have state tax credits and incentives. Albuquerque does not have state incentives but does provide performance based utility rebates.

    The next three cities — San Jose, CA (24.19), Las Vegas (23.36), and Washington, DC (23.06) — have far fewer policy supports but better sun.

    The bottom three cities — Oklahoma City (3.17), Tulsa, OK (2.44), and Louisville, KY (1.63) — have virtually no supportive policy and rank very low despite quality sun; yet the only other cities as low, Omaha, NE (3.26) and Indianapolis, IN (3.67), do provide policy support.

    “Policy is a complex beast,” Kennerly said.

    Soft costs and how cities can reduce them

    Because the research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of EnergySunShot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs), its policy focus was on one of the SunShot Initiative’s main targets, the ways local jurisdictions can attack soft costs that were 64% of the total 2012 cost of residential PV, according to NREL.

    The primary soft costs targeted by SunShot, according to the report, are installation labor, customer acquisition, financing, and permitting and inspection (PII).

    “Soft costs can be brought down,” Proudlove said. “It depends on local governments knowing what to do and taking action.”

    The paper offers a detailed list of things local governments can do. It also proposes that municipal utilities (1) adopt a value of solar tariff, (2) net metering and interconnection policy best practices, (3) focus rate design on supporting solar, (4) offer community solar, (5) provide customers with other solar options, (6) harmonize utility procedures with local jurisdictional procedures, and (7) update and streamline permitting, inspection, and interconnection processes.

    The paper concludes with a summary of policy and market challenges likely coming in solar after two years of robust growth. They include:

    Termination of the 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC) at the end of 2016 and the market disruption that approaching deadline could impose

    Changes in state, local, and utility rebates and incentives

    More legislative and regulatory debates about solar’s costs and benefits and threats to solar support policies

    International trade disputes that could increase hardware costs

    “The time to invest in solar is now because the future is not certain,” Kennerly said, “and investing now can add significant future savings.”

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