North Carolina Hits Solar Grid Parity

A new report offers the latest evidence of solar energy-generated electricity’s approach to cost parity with other forms of generation that send power to the grid.

Two things make “Levelized Cost of Solar Photovoltaics in North Carolina,” from the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NC SEA), an especially valuable contribution to the tracking of solar energy’s approach to grid parity. First, it is based on a substantial data set. Second, its methodology is comprehensive and transparent.

Though the report’s conclusions are particular to North Carolina, NC SEA Managing Director and report co-author Paul Quinlan said, installed costs for solar PV systems are falling across the country. “But grid parity,” he stipulated, “depends on retail utility rates and those can be very different” from state to state.

One thing that should be noted upfront: Grid parity in this report has nothing to do with avoided costs (emissions, transmission building, etc.). The calculations are based on the levelized cost of photovoltaic (PV) system electricity (LCOE) and the retail cost of commercial and residential electricity from North Carolina’s three investor-owned utilities (IOUs), 71 municipally owned utilities (MOUs) and 31 electric cooperatives (Co-ops).

The data comes from over 10,000 solar PV system installations in North Carolina from 2006 to 2011 whose owners, per a state regulation, reported installation costs to the Public Utilities Commission.

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