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UT Study Shows Wind, Solar, And Natural Gas Are Cheapest Electricity Generators

December 06, 2018 - 7:55 am

By Chris Fox, 1080 KRLD Austin Bureau Chief

AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - Changing market conditions have made natural gas, wind and solar energy the lowest-cost technologies for new electricity generation for most of the U.S., according to updated research released by The University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute.

The study breaks down the costs of each resource by county and found wind to be a cost-competitive electricity source across all parts of the country. When environmental conditions and availability are factored into the analysis, wind fared even better. According to UT Research Associate and lead author Joshua Rhodes the areas where wind was not the lowest cost resource, it was often the second lowest.

The research features a series of maps that have been revised to reflect shifting market conditions, a new policy environment and other factors affecting the cost of electricity generation in counties across the U.S. The updated version also displays the same data for congressional districts.

“The new maps present a more accurate reflection of current market conditions, including revised prices that indicate the cost of various generating technologies,” Rhodes said.

Researchers examined existing studies to enhance a formula used to calculate generation costs known as the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE). The formula factors in “externalities” such as the public health and environmental effects associated with electricity generation – which the LCOE formula typically does not include – to calculate truer costs for each generation technology.