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Rising Solar Power Production In U.S. Likely To Make It Second-Largest New Source In 2013

Solar power is on the rise, even as the growth rate of U.S. electricity consumption has been slowing. This year, energy generated from solar power will be the second-largest source added to the U.S. electric grid.

“Solar is going to move into the No. 2 position in terms of new build, second only to gas,” Recurrent Chief Executive Officer Arno Harris said in an interview yesterday at the company’s main office in San Francisco.

Rooftop solar systems can be installed for about $4 a watt and utility-scale systems for $2 a watt, Harris said. “We can see our way to $1.50,” he said. “At those kinds of costs, we’re competitive in the Southwest with conventional electricity.”

Panel prices have fallen almost 69 percent in the past two years, benefiting companies such as Recurrent that purchase and install the equipment and sell electricity from the systems to utilities. Falling costs also have enabled developers to accept lower-priced contracts. First Solar Inc. has signed a power purchase agreement for a project in New Mexico that will sell electricity at a lower rate than new coal plants earn.
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