Solar Power Costs Dropping, Nearing Competition

New York [Reuters] Solar energy is fast closing the price gap with conventional U.S. power sources and is likely to drop to near even in cost in many regions in the next few years, industry sources said this week. Price declines for the clean energy have been driven by the ramp up in production of solar cells and panels and advances in technology that have increased the cells’ efficiency. Under current laws that expire in 2008, installation of solar power systems are subsidized by a 30 percent investment tax credit that helps narrow the gap between the cost of 20 to 40 cents per kwh and typical U.S. retail electricity costs of about 10.5 cents per kwh.