Last week, the NC Clean Energy Technology Center at NC State University, a partner in the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs), released a report ranking America’s largest cities according to the financial value solar offers residential customers in those cities. Today, the Center released its customer-facing companion report,“Going Solar in America: Ranking Solar’s Value to Consumers in America’s Largest Cities”, which, in addition to explaining the results of the analysis delivered in the previous report, dives into the different policy, incentive, and financing options available to customers considering solar.
Highlights of the customer-facing report include:
1. According to data shared with us by EnergySage, the leading online marketplace for solar, total installed solar PV system prices have declined from $10/W in the late 1990s by 60% to less than $4/W nationwide on average in the 3rd Quarter of 2014.
|Quoted Costs For A 5 kilowatt (kW) Solar PV System During Q3 2014 (July-September 2014, Before Rebates & Incentives)|
|Region||Estimated Installed $/W at 5 kW||Implied 5 kW System Cost (Pre-Incentives)|
|United States (exc. California)||$3.96||$19,778|
|West (Southwest & Northwest)||$3.92||$19,603|
|Source: Derived from real quotes to interested solar customers from 3rd Quarter (July-September 2014) installers through the online solar marketplace EnergySage. ZIP code level pricing data was regressed against ZIP code level average system sizes to determine the price at 5 kW.|
2. Customers today often have a variety of compensation, incentive, and financing options available to them. Below are the report’s visual depictions of two of the most common compensation mechanisms for solar- net metering and “value of solar” tariffs (a type of “buy-all, sell-all” arrangement). The report also includes a chart of available financial incentives for solar in each city and an explanation of three of the most common financing options- loans, leases, and power purchase agreements (PPAs).
3. Customers interested in pursuing an investment in solar should consider the following questions to get started:
The two “Going Solar in America” reports are intended to open the eyes of the American public to the true savings and investment value rooftop solar offers today. While solar is of interest to many American homeowners, most don’t consider it a viable option for themselves today, when in reality, this report’s analysis shows that an investment in a financed solar PV system can perform better than a similar investment in the S&P 500 for the typical homeowner in most of America’s largest cities. By educating consumers about the value solar offers and the options available to them, we hope that more Americans will be able to make informed decisions about solar and their energy futures.
Jim Kennerly is a Senior Policy Analyst, and Autumn Proudlove is a Policy Analyst at the NC Clean Energy Technology Center. Their special thanks goes to all of their colleagues working on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) project, whose knowledge of policies and incentives in their states made this project greatly benefitted this project.