The value of solar power is being debated across the country by regulators, utility companies, and solar energy providers as distributed power generation is increasing. This Energy and Policy Institute series consists of four separate reports summarizing recent developments, while providing recommendations for policy makers.

The Value of Solar Versus Fossil Fuels series was written by Nancy LaPlaca, Matt Kasper, and Gabe Elsner.

The first report analyzes recent decisions by regulators and reports from Wall Street firms outlining the economic impact solar energy has on the ratepayer.

The second report highlights the external costs of fossil fuels and shows that when these very real “extra” costs are added solar power is a clear economic winner. It also targets states that are fighting against previously enacted solar energy legislation, while spending millions of dollars importing coal.

The third report draws attention to the benefits that solar energy provides for the electric grid, including how solar makes the grid more robust and resilient.


The Solar Boom

Solar energy’s growth rate in the U.S. over the past four years has been 418 percent. In 2010, America’s total solar capacity was just over 2,000 megawatts (MW), and by 2014 over 12,000 MW of solar electricity generation had been installed across the country.

Part One

Wall Street and Regulators Choose Solar Over Fossil Fuels

Wall Street Favors Solar As Utilities Face Financial Threat For the past few decades the electricity sector in the U.S. has faced almost no competition and enjoyed access to cheap […]

Part Two

The External Costs of Fossil Fuels; Environmental and Health Value of Solar

Introduction Ratepayers and customers have been led to believe that a power plant burning coal or natural gas is the cheapest form of electricity and therefore, should be prioritized over […]

Part Three

How to Secure the Grid and Save Ratepayers Money

Background: The Aging Power Grid Knowing of how the electrical system works is critical to understanding why and how solar energy benefits the power grid. The U.S. electric grid consists […]


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