The price of California residential solar continues to fall, according to a new report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, located at U.C. Berkeley. The annual study found that the average cost per watt for installing small photovoltaic (PV) solar energy systems (less than 10 kilowatts [kw] of capacity) went from $6.40 in 2011 to $5.70 in 2012, representing a decline of 12 percent.

For medium systems (10-100 kw), the mean per-watt installation price decreased from $6.00 to $5.30, a drop of 11 percent.

The report, titled “Tracking the Sun VI: An Historical Summary of the Installed Price of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998 to 2012”, credits the drop in solar installation costs primarily to the plummeting prices of solar panels themselves, which have fallen $2.60 per watt between 2008 and 2012. Other factors contributing to these costs (referred to as “soft-costs”) such as wages and permitting, remained relatively flat.

“Unlike module prices, which are established based on global supply and demand, soft costs can be influenced more directly by local, state and national policies aimed at accelerating deployment and removing market barriers,” said Galen Barbose of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, and one of the report’s co-authors, in a news release. “This marks the third year in a row of significant price reductions for PV systems in the U.S.”

There’s never been a better time than now to explore the possibility of having a residential PV system installed on your rooftop. If you’re interested in finding out how your family can lower or even eliminate your energy bills with solar power, contact West Coast Solar today.