Jan 13, 2015
By Bruce Mohl
US ENERGY Information Administration says solar power is expensive relative to other types of electricity generation, yet cities, towns, and schools across Massachusetts are finding that solar can save them lots of money.
The federal agency, which tries to compare the cost of electricity produced from various sources, says solar is one of the most expensive types of electricity generation. The average cost nationally is estimated at 13 cents per kilowatt hour, but it would probably be much higher in New England where sunlight and land for solar farms are more limited.
Yet local headlines suggest solar is a money saver for many municipalities. The Telegram & Gazette recently reported that a solar deal may cut Southbridge’s electricity bills in half. Westford estimates a deal it negotiated with a solar developer will cut its annual electric bill by more than 20 percent. Sixteen public housing authorities expect to save $60 million over the next 20 years by signing solar deals.
How can these towns and housing authorities be saving money by tapping into what the federal government says is a high-priced form of power? The cost of solar panels has fallen dramatically in recent years and the price of electricity is hitting all-time highs this winter. Yet despite these favorable conditions, solar in the Northeast is not cheap. Cities and towns are saving money on solar because of a complex system of state and federal subsidies. For full article…