Briefly

Stuff that matters

sunprecedented

Solar is nearly 10 percent cheaper than it was a year ago.

So say two new reports from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The first report, Tracking the Sun IX, found that the price of putting solar panels on your roof dropped by a shameless 5 percent last year. The cost of putting solar panels on schools, hot dog stands, and other non-residential buildings showed even less restraint with an average drop of 8 percent.

What’s moving this price shift is society, not technology. The price of a solar panel hasn’t changed much in the past four years, but the process of installing panels on your roof and plugging them in has become more efficient. Cities and states that have made a serious effort to simplify the permitting process for installations have helped push down prices by thousands of dollars.

Utilities are saving the most of all. The cost of buying and installing a utility-scale solar setup dropped by an impressive 12 percent, according to Utility-Scale Solar 2015. That’s possibly because anyone buying an installation that huge can drive a harder bargain.

Not everyone is saving money — both reports found wide variation in what different people and utilities were charged. But overall, the price of solar continues its tumble.