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Southern Nevada solar installation.

As electric rates rise, solar makes more "cents"

For nearly two decades, electric rates in Southern Nevada have been relatively consistent and low costs in recent years have been attributed to the region’s primary use of natural gas for electrical generation. But the cost of this primary feedstock has jumped considerably over the last two years and consumers are feeling the impact through higher power bills. As a matter of fact, most residential customers in Southern Nevada, have seen the cost of a kilowatt-hour gradually rise 42% in the last 15 months. During the spring and fall months in the Las Vegas valley, power bills are relatively moderate and these increases are not as intense. However, as the summer heats up and households start tripling their consumption of kilowatt-hours to run their air conditioners, the new cost of a kilowatt-hour is likely to pose significant sticker shock on the average utility bill.

For over a hundred years, the majority of the electricity used in everyday life has been generated through magnetoelectricity, which occurs when steam is used to spin a turbine. For the most part, this steam is produced through the use of coal and natural gas. These fossil fuel feedstocks are subject to ever changing price fluctuations happening around the clock within the global economy. However, solar energy does not fluctuate like this because the sun’s rays are its feedstock and they are priced at absolutely free to use wherever they can be found. Therefore, the costs associated with producing solar electricity are not as volatile as other forms of production. Essentially, this means the per unit cost of producing kilowatt-hours through solar energy can be estimated based upon the anticipated initial and ongoing maintenance costs of just one’s solar electric system, without having to factor in the fluctuating costs of fuel feedstock, like traditional power plants.

These factors will most certainly lead a number of the region’s utility customers to seek solar energy solutions to reduce their reliance on the volatility of energy pricing coming from the power company. If a utility customer has the option between a calculable return on investment from a solar PV system and a continual, reoccurring, and variable utility fee, the choice is simple. When you can convert free photons into electricity, the power that you generate has a stable price and the value of the electricity you produce is that of the electricity you did not have to buy.