RALEIGH, N.C. – Plunging solar power costs are leading U.S. electric companies to capture the sun just when President Donald Trump is moving to boost coal and other fossil fuels.
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Major electric utilities are moving into smaller-scale solar farming, a niche developed by local cooperatives and non-profits.
It's both an opportunity and a defensive maneuver. Sunshine-capturing technology is becoming so cheap that utilities are preserving their core business against competition from household solar panels.
The largest U.S. electricity company this year plans to launch a "community solar" program in South Carolina and seek regulatory permission to do the same in North Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.
Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp. plans to join Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc. and California's three largest investor-owned utilities among other utilities moving into community solar.