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Plummeting Prices Make Solar, Wind Competitive with Gas and Coal

Unsubsidized solar and wind energy are beginning to compete with coal and natural gas in the United States, and the venerable New York Times is taking notice.

“For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources,” the Times reported November 23. “That day appears to be dawning.”

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Citing a study earlier this year [2] by Lazard, a global financial advisory and asset management firm, the Times reported costs of 5.6¢ per kilowatt-hour for utility-scale solar and as low as 1.4¢/kWh for wind, compared to 6.1¢ for natural gas and 6.6¢ for coal. After eliminating renewable energy subsidies—but without touching the disproportionate subsidies [3] that go to fossil fuels each year—solar comes in at 7.2¢, wind at 3.7¢.

“Utility executives say the trend [toward renewables] has accelerated this year,” Cardwell writes, “especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant.”