We need to do everything we can to bring the prices down to the level of the average American. Goodness knows we subsidize all these things that are terrible for us...why not this? The dramatic fall in costs associated with solar is remarkable, but it needs to go further. I'd like to see tax breaks that pay for roof panels 100%, but that's just me.
Solar power has been getting cheaper for years. Panel prices declined 31 percent from 1998 to 2008 because of lower manufacturing and installation costs and state and local subsidies, according to a study released Wednesday by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. But it still took a ramp up in federal incentives this year to bring the cost within many people's reach.
More than half the states in the U.S. and Washington D.C. offer enough incentives to cut the costs by 40 percent or more, according to Amy Heinemann, a policy analyst at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
How much you'll spend depends on where you live.
In New Jersey, generous state incentives can pay for more than 90 percent of a home solar system. A 5-kilowatt solar system would drop from $37,500 to about $2,625 after applying the federal tax credit, a state rebate, and a renewable energy program through the state's largest electric utility, PSE&G.
A system that size can shrink a typical home's electricity consumption by up to 40 percent and cut an electric bill by several hundred dollars a year. The owner would recoup the cost in roughly three years.