For the first time electricity generated from wind and solar farms has become competitive against fossil fuels. Public utility companies are now buying solar and wind outputs at price points near and below conventional power sources, like natural gas, coal, and nuclear. Public utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant. The cost of utility-scale solar energy is as low as 5.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, and wind is as low as 1.4 cents. In comparison, natural gas comes at 6.1 cents a kilowatt-hour on the low end and coal at 6.6 cents. Both solar and wind industries have managed to bring down costs through a combination of new technologies and approaches to financing and operations. The continued build out of new wind and solar farms has helped to drive the costs lower as well. Public financing needs to continue to accelerate our move from fossil fuel power generation to a new era of renewable energy.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis