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The cost of building and operating renewable electricity plants has dropped below the expense of keeping coal-fired plants running under some circumstances, according to a new analysis.

Why it matters: The financial advisory firm Lazard's report is another data point showing that wind and solar are increasingly competitive with traditional power sources without tax subsidies, which widen the edge but expire in coming years.

  • As the Financial Times' Ed Crooks points out, "The calculations suggest that closures of coal-fired plants are likely to continue, eroding US demand for coal and jeopardising [President] Trump’s ambition to 'put our coal miners back to work.'"

Where it stands: The latest data on falling renewables costs released yesterday solidifies what started becoming apparent in last year's data from the firm.

  • In their latest report, they find the average so-called levelized cost of energy of utility-scale solar voltaic projects fell another 13% and the costs for onshore wind dropped another 7%.
  • The low end of the unsubsidized costs for onshore wind are now $29 per megawatt hour, while "the levelized cost of utility-scale solar is nearly identical to the illustrative marginal cost of coal, at $36/MWh," a summary notes.

Details: The levelized cost is basically an all-in comparison of the costs of building, running, supplying and maintaining different types of facilities over time.

But, but, but: Lazard cautions that the analysis does not include certain costs, such as transmission and grid integration for new projects. Nonetheless, Lazard's George Bilicic, who leads the firm's power, energy and infrastructure group, said in a statement:

"Although diversified energy resources are still required for a modern grid, we have reached an inflection point where, in some cases, it is more cost effective to build and operate new alternative energy projects than to maintain existing conventional generation plants.”

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In photos: Thousands evacuated as Southern California fire grows

A plane makes a retardant drop on a ridge at the Apple Fire north of Banning in Riverside County, which "doubled in size" Saturday, per KTLA. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A massive wildfire that prompted mandatory evacuations in Southern California over the weekend burned 26,450 acres and was 5% contained by Monday afternoon, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The big picture: As California remains an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., some 15 separate fires are raging across the state. About 7,800 people were under evacuation orders from the Apple Fire, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles, as hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze. CalFire said Monday that a malfunction involving a "diesel-fueled vehicle emitting burning carbon from the exhaust system" started the Apple Fire.

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Twitter faces FTC fine of up to $250 million over alleged privacy violations

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket

The Federal Trade Commission has accused Twitter of using phone numbers and emails from its users to make targeted ads between 2013 and 2019, Twitter said in an SEC filing published Monday.

Why it matters: Twitter estimates that the FTC's draft complaint, which was sent a few days after its Q2 earnings report, could cost the company between $150 million and $250 million. The complaint is unrelated to the recent Twitter hack involving a bitcoin scam.