Solar firms expand as solar electricity costs fall

March 4 (Investor's Business Daily) - Solar-generated electricity is becoming cheaper than the grid in more cities, prompting residential solar installers to look for growth in more markets.

Electricity from rooftop solar systems is now cheaper than local utility rates in 42 of the 50 U.S. largest cities, according to "Going Solar in America," a report that North Carolina State University's College of Engineering released in January.

Yet most folks still view solar as a "technological luxury," says the report, by Jim Kennerly and Autumn Proudlove of the college's North Carolina Clean Energy Center.

"In 46 of America's 50 largest cities, a fully financed, typically sized solar PV (photovoltaic) system is a better investment than the stock market, and in 42 of these cities, the same system already costs less than energy from a residential customer's local utility," said the report. "Of the single-family homeowners in America's 50 largest cities, we estimate that 9.1 million already live in a city where solar costs less than their current utility rates if they bought a PV system outright — and nearly 21 million (93% of all estimated single-family homeowners in those cities) do if low-cost financing is available."

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