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Can we find a common framework for solar cost-benefit studies?

When the general, electric-bill-paying public hears about cost-benefit studies on the value of solar energy and its impacts on the power grid or the bills of non-solar utility customers, many of them probably envision a straightforward, ledger-sheet kind of tally. Costs go on one side, benefits on the other; total up the columns and you’ll see if the sides are in or out of balance. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

300,000 PV Systems

SEPA released its national Utility Solar Rankings executive summary at the Utility Solar Conference (USC) earlier in April. The not-unexpected headline was ‘more solar megawatts for more utilities in more states’ for all project sizes, residential through utility-scale. The natural focus is on megawatts. They drive market capitalization. They drive state and utility comparisons. Megawatts are oh-so sexy in that geeky solar-utility way.