The expansion of distributed solar generation is contributing to decreased demand from major users for traditional wholesale power providers, said Glen Grabelsky, Fitch Ratings managing director, at the Edison Electric Institute Financial Conference in Orlando, Fla.

States with renewable portfolio standards will likely further encourage the burgeoning distributed photovoltaic market, which is popular with consumers and large commercial users. Walmart, for instance, has an extensive program in California to dot its stores' rooftops with PV panels. Solar DG units typically are installed on rooftops and pose little environmental risk.

Thin-film utility-scale rooftop units cost roughly $0.19 per kWh, Grabelsky noted. Fitch estimates that figure to drop to $0.13 by 2016, with improving energy efficiencies. It will have to hit $0.08 per kWh to achieve grid parity against cheaper generation resources, however. Parity can be achieved between 2017 and 2020.

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