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Growing concerns about oil and gas supplies create an opportunity for alternative energy sources. A four-year-old California company has found a way to make solar panels affordable.

But as NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports, you cannot get them unless your state offers incentives for clean energy.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN: SolarCity lets its customers lease solar panels. They don't have to shell out a lot of money up front to buy them. Customers often pay less for leases and their electric bills than they used to pay for their electric bills alone. The company's expanding into New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive says all these states offer rebates and tax incentives for installing solar panels.

Mr. LYNDON RIVE (CEO, SolarCity): A key thing for us when we move into a market is: Can we save a business or homeowner money? and if there's no local incentive you can't do it.

SHOGREN: Massachusetts offers rebates, loans and tax breaks. It also requires utilities to produce about one percent of their electricity from solar. As a result, homeowners and companies end up getting discounts on solar panel installations. This all sweetens a 30 percent federal tax credit.

Rick Sullivan is Massachusetts secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. He says SolarCity's announcement is more proof that the incentives are paying off.

Mr. RICK SULLIVAN (Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs): The companies are coming into Massachusetts. The existing companies are growing in Massachusetts, and they're creating jobs. They're becoming a very important part of the economy.

SHOGREN: Solar installations in the state are up 20-fold, and prices are coming down. Sullivan says the goal is for economies of scale to kick in and make solar panels affordable without the incentives.

Elizabeth Shogren, NPR News, Washington.

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