Utility Companies on Edge As Solar Gets Cheaper

Over the last five years, the cost of large-scale utility solar projects has dropped by 67 percent.

Americans have taken note: between 2010 and 2014, U.S. solar capacity increased 418 percent. More than half of that increase came from home and business owners installing solar technology.

Late last month, President Obama, along with leaders from China, Brazil and a number of other countries, pledged that the United States would get at least 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. That goal will require even more Americans to sign on to solar and the Obama administration hopes to speed that transition with a new program, designed to bring solar power to more low-income Americans.

But as Amit Ronen, director of the George Washington University Solar Institute, explains, utility companies aren’t necessarily on board. Ronen, a former policy analyst with the U.S. Department of Energy, says that many utilities see solar as a threat to their traditional business model, rather than an opportunity — a possible hurdle for President Obama’s energy goals.

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