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Solar Power To Be Sold Cheaper Than Coal To El Paso Electric Company

According to a New Mexico Public Regulation Commission document, there is a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) between First Solar and El Paso Electric Company under which First Solar will sell solar power from its thin-film solar panels for 5.8 U.S cents ($0.0579) per kWh to El Paso Electric Company.

This is outstanding because the average retail price of electricity in the United States is twice that, 11.7 cents per kWh, and the cost to generate electricity (which is not the same as the retail price of it) from a conventional coal power plant, according to the U.S Department of Energy is 9.7 cents per kWh, and the cost of electricity from a coal power plant with CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage, otherwise known as “clean coal”) is 13.8 cents per kWh.

Middlebury College’s Solar Panel Array (This was part of the 2011 American Department of Energy Solar Decathlon). Image obtained with thanks from Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon on Flickr.

Utility companies often buy electricity from producers and resell it to residents.

The name of the power plant is Macho Springs Solar Park, and it is located in New Mexico.

Keep in mind that coal was never economical, or acceptable due to hidden costs which are mentioned below.

According to a Harvard study, the environmental and public health damage caused by coal power plant emissions and coal mining would double to triple the retail price of coal electricity to 19 cents per kWh or triple it to 29 cents per kWh, putting it above that of almost all electricity sources, including the expensive conventional utility-scale solar (21 cents per kWh) and wind power plants.

Also keep in mind that coal power plants with CCS do not compensate for all environmental damage such as mining, miner deaths, slurry-related issues, and the scattering of coal into the air and water bodies from MTR (mountaintop removal mining).

The true cost of an electricity source includes all costs it incurs both directly and indirectly, therefore, this should be always be considered.

“The public is unfairly paying for the impacts of coal use,” says Dr. Paul Epstein, the lead author of the report and associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.”

Source: pv magazine

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