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Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Thomas Jackson) The country's biggest Internet service providers and advertising industry lobby groups are fighting to stop a proposed California law that would protect the privacy of broadband customers. AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Frontier, Sprint, Verizon, and some broadband lobby groups urged California state senators to vote against the proposed law in a letter Tuesday. The bill would require Internet service providers to obtain customers' permission before they use, share, or sell the customers' Web browsing and application usage histories. California lawmakers could vote on the bill Friday of this week, essentially replicating federal rules that were blocked by the Republican-controlled Congress and President Trump before they could be implemented. The text and status of the California bill, AB 375, are available here. "This bill will create a cumbersome, uncertain, and vague regulation of Internet providers in California," Tuesday's letter to California senators said. "This single-state approach is antithetical to the forward-looking policies that have made California a world leader in the Internet Age." Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Oak Ridge National Lab) Until fairly recently, the list of materials with which we might build a quantum computer have been notable because that list has one big exception: silicon. Silicon is, without doubt, an awesome material. Every semiconductor company in the world knows how to build stuff using it. Fabrication processes are so precise that features of just 50 atoms across are possible. With these advantages, pretty much any time someone makes a new device, the first comment is: well that's very pretty and all, but can you do it in CMOS? CMOS is a silicon-based complementary metal oxide semiconductor, the industry-standard process. If the answer is no, then, unless the product is world-changing (think light emitting diodes and laser diodes), industry interest evaporates faster than spilled vodka. Now, if a recent theoretical paper is correct, silicon-based quantum computing may be on the verge of making the leap from not-even-on-the-list to technology-to-beat, thanks to a clever new way of thinking about qubit structures. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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SpaceX SpaceX is famously not afraid to fail. "There's a silly notion that failure's not an option at NASA,” company founder Elon Musk has said in the past. “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough." In recent years, others in the aerospace industry have come to see the sense of this ethos, as SpaceX has tinkered with its Falcon 9 rocket to make it a mostly reusable booster, finally achieving reuse of the rocket's first stage earlier this year. To go further in space, at a lower cost, new things must be tried. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Jeff Kaplan explains how policing the Overwatch community is something he wishes there was no need to do. Everyone knows that toxic players can go a long way toward ruining a specific Overwatch match with trollish play or abusive chat language. But as Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan points out in his latest developer update video, policing that kind of bad behavior also impacts the game as a whole by taking developer resources away from making actual new content. While the Overwatch team is passionate about making new maps, heroes, and animated shorts for the game, Kaplan says "we're spending a tremendous amount of time and resources punishing people and trying to make people behave better... The bad behavior is not just ruining the experience for one another, but it's actually making the game progress in terms of developement at a much slower rate." As one example of this problem, Kaplan pointed out that the Overwatch team members who recently implemented a player reporting system on consoles had to delay work on creating a match history and replay system for the game. Adding these tools for console players seems necessary, though; so far on the PC, over 70 percent of the 480,000 disciplinary actions taken against player accounts have been "a direct result of players using the reporting system," Kaplan said. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Apple) The first public demo of Apple’s Face ID phone unlocking system didn’t go exactly as planned. During the company’s big iPhone X reveal this week, Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi suffered a semi-cringeworthy moment when he was unable to unlock the new handset onstage using the new authentication tech. The device prompted Federighi to use a passcode instead, leading him to switch to a backup unit, which worked properly. The mishap led some to immediately doubt the effectiveness of the Face ID setup—which completely replaces the usual Touch ID fingerprint scanner on the iPhone X—and, according to some reports, even led to a brief dip in Apple’s share price. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Hyperloop One, a startup that's working on building high-speed, low-pressure, tube-based rail transportation, announced Thursday morning that it had chosen 10 routes around the world that it will study as potential locations for a Hyperloop. The startup solicited route ideas back in May as part of what it called the "Hyperloop One Global Challenge." One route, however, was chosen for a headliner feasibility study that will be conducted with Colorado's Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Aecom, a multinational engineering firm: Pueblo-Denver-Cheyenne. Hyperloop One says that route would span 360 miles and be accessible to about 4.8 million people. (This reporter lives in Denver and has been stuck in enough I-25 traffic that she would love to see an alternative for that artery up the Front Range, no matter how far-fetched.) Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A Keepstar Citadel, one of the largest constructs in the game. CO2's Keepstar was part of the heist. (credit: CCP) Space-based MMO EVE Online has a reputation for being somewhat difficult and tedious to actually play—while at the same time being one of the best games to watch others play (this video, for example, makes EVE seem thoroughly awesome). But the game is practically the platonic ideal of a Hilarious Story Generator—game creator CCP Games encourages players to do creative things in-game, which regularly leads to amazing stories of almost unbelievable shenanigans. Yesterday’s massive blow-up has managed to top them all. By the time it was over, a player coalition had been effectively destroyed and a whole slew of assets worth tens of thousands of real-world dollars had been stolen. SomethingAwful’s Goonswarm Federation has taken credit for engineering the largest and potentially most disruptive blow-up in the game’s history. Kotaku tells the entire story in great detail, but here’s the short version. Look, Ma! No hands! The player group on the receiving end of the screwjob is called Council of Two, or just “CO2.” A high-ranking CO2 player named “The Judge” was approached by a high-ranking Goonswarm player named Aryth, who over the course of a few months managed to flip The Judge’s loyalties. The loyalty-flipping was centered around—what else?—past slights and wars that occurred between Goonswarm, CO2, and other player groups. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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"Why does my phone suck so much, Google?" With the iPhone launch out of the way, Google is now starting to spin up the marketing machine for its next flagship phone. Google has launched a teaser site and a video asking dissatisfied smartphone users to "stay tuned for more on October 4." What Google wants users to "stay tuned" for is the Pixel 2, the sequel to the Google Pixel. When we last checked in with Google's 2017 flagship, we were working off a tweet from VentureBeat's Evan Blass claiming that the phone would launch October 5th and come with a new "Snapdragon 836" SoC. Later reports from both Android Police and XDA Developers disputed this, saying Qualcomm wasn't working on mid-cycle "836" refresh this year. The Pixel 2 is now expected to have the same Snapdragon 835 SoC as every other high-end Android phone. Android Police Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge Bethesda, one of the first third-party publishers to pledge support for Nintendo's fledgling hybrid console with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, has committed two new games to the Nintendo Switch via a Nintendo Direct: the lighting-fast shooter Doom, and the upcoming Nazi-blasting fun-fest that is Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Doom launches "this winter," while The New Colossus launches at some point in 2018, a good deal later than the game's October 27 launch on other platforms. That Bethesda is committing to the Switch, even if its games won't appear on the platform until after they launch on the likes of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, is a major boon for Nintendo. Thus far, the most compelling games on the Switch have been made by Nintendo itself, including Arms, Splatoon 2, and the sublime The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Other major multi-platform ports are on the way, but are either older games like Rocket League, or sports and family games like FIFA 18 and Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2. Earlier this year, some developers spoke out about bringing their games to the Switch, claiming that a lack of processing power compared to the other consoles is hampering their efforts. However, sales of the Switch—which have reached over five million units— have made it one of the fastest-selling devices in the company's history. Stock remains sporadic at retailers, and despite competition from Nintendo's own upcoming Super Nintendo Classic Edition, the Switch will remains a hot ticket item for the holiday season. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / One of the fee-based services ExpensiveWallpaper apps subscribed users to. Researchers recently found at least 50 apps in the official Google Play market that made charges for fee-based services without the knowledge or permission of users. The apps were downloaded as many as 4.2 million times. Google quickly removed the apps after the researchers reported them, but within days, apps from the same malicious family were back and infected more than 5,000 devices. The apps, all from a family of malware that security firm Check Point calls ExpensiveWall, surreptitiously uploaded phone numbers, locations, and unique hardware identifiers to attacker-controlled servers. The apps then used the phone numbers to sign up unwitting users to premium services and to send fraudulent premium text messages, a move that caused users to be billed. Check Point researchers didn't know how much revenue was generated by the apps. Google Play showed the apps had from 1 million to 4.2 million downloads. Packing heat ExpensiveWall—named after one of the individual apps called LovelyWall—used a common obfuscation technique known as packing. By compressing or encrypting the executable file before it's uploaded to Play, attackers can hide its maliciousness from Google's malware scanners. A key included in the package then reassembled the executable once the file was safely on the targeted device. Although packing is more than a decade old, Google's failure to catch the apps, even after the first batch was removed, underscores how effective the technique remains. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left, chairs the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Defense Secretary James Mattis, right, serves on the committee, which recommended that Trump block the Lattice deal. (credit: Joint Chiefs of Staff) President Trump has blocked an investment firm owned by the Chinese government from acquiring Lattice Semiconductor, a maker of field-programmable gate arrays and other programmable logic devices. The decision follows a recommendation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a US government body that reviews deals for potential national security problems. Chinese investors have been plowing money into American technology companies in recent years, and this has raised concerns that Chinese control could undermine American national security. That could happen because Chinese firms gain the knowhow to develop high-end technologies with military applications. Or deals could pose a more direct threat if they enable the Chinese government to infiltrate the supply chain for products purchased by the US government—thereby creating opportunities for surveillance or sabotage. Lattice, a Portland-based company with around 1,000 employees, argued that the Trump administration had nothing to worry about. Lattice said it outsourced chip manufacturing to other companies, so there wasn't a risk of manufacturing facilities being infiltrated. Lattice also offered to transfer key intellectual property to the US government to ensure that it didn't fall into Chinese hands. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Wikimedia Commons/Alex E. Proimos) The Equifax breach that exposed sensitive data for as many as 143 million US consumers was accomplished by exploiting a Web application vulnerability that had been patched more two months earlier, officials with the credit reporting service said Thursday. "Equifax has been intensely investigating the scope of the intrusion with the assistance of a leading, independent cybersecurity firm to determine what information was accessed and who has been impacted," company officials wrote in an update posted online. "We know that criminals exploited a US website application vulnerability. The vulnerability was Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638. We continue to work with law enforcement as part of our criminal investigation, and have shared indicators of compromise with law enforcement." The flaw in the Apache Struts framework was fixed on March 6. Three days later, the bug was already under mass attack by hackers who were exploiting the flaw to install rogue applications on web servers. Five days after that, the exploits showed few signs of letting up. Equifax has said the breach on its site occurred in mid-May, more than two months after the flaw came to light and a patch was available. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Aaron Streets is a bioengineer who works on technology that does for fluids what microchips have done for computation. (credit: Aaron Streets) Microfluidics is a cutting-edge area of science that non-scientists rarely hear about. By taking advantage of the physical properties of fluids at extremely small scales, biochemical analysis can be performed at significantly faster speeds than it would otherwise take for a full-scale lab test to run. In some cases, that means that work that would have taken days can now be done in minutes, at far lower cost. In some ways, it's the biochemical equivalent of the microchip. These "labs-on-a-chip" can be used to perform certain tasks, such as anthrax detection, DNA sequencing, and manipulation of single cells. Aaron Streets, a UC Berkeley professor of bioengineering, is one of the leading researchers in this field. Streets completed his Bachelor’s in Physics and Art at UCLA and his doctorate in Applied Physics at Stanford. He then went to Beijing, China to conduct postdoctoral research at Peking University. Streets joined the faculty of UC Berkeley as an Assistant Professor in Bioengineering in 2016 and is currently a core member of the Biophysics Program and the Center for Computational Biology. He was recently named a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub investigator. Join Ars Technica editors Cyrus Farivar and David Kravets in conversation with Aaron Streets at the next Ars Technica Live on September 20 at Eli's Mile High Club in Oakland. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Leonel Cordova (L) and Noris Cordova, who are not plaintiffs in this lawsuit, speak to a CBP officer at Miami International Airport on March 4, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images) A Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer, a California artist, a limousine driver and several other Americans have sued the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection over what they say are unconstitutional and warrantless searches of their digital devices at the United States border. The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Massachusetts on Wednesday, is the first of its kind to directly challenge the government’s claim that it can demand travelers' passwords at the border in order to search a device in the wake of a key 2014 Supreme Court decision. The plaintiffs are being represented by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Some of the plaintiffs' stories have been previously reported in the media, including by Ars. In May 2017, we reported the story of Aaron Gach, who told us that border agents threatened to "be dicks" if he didn’t hand over the password to his phone upon his arrival at San Francisco International Airport. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 4: Shkreli was found guilty on three of the eight counts involving securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) (credit: Getty | Drew Angerer) Martin Shkreli will be held in jail until his sentencing for securities fraud following online antics, according to reports from the Brooklyn federal courtroom. US District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto made the call Wednesday evening after hearing arguments from federal prosecutors who claimed Shkreli posed a "danger to the community." Prosecutors cited Shkreli’s recent online antics as reasons to lock up the infamous ex-pharmaceutical CEO. While he has a history of harassing women online, prosecutors were particularly critical of a September 4 Facebook post in which he offered his followers a $5,000 reward for plucking a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair during her current book tour. He reportedly made a reference to using the strands for genetic testing in the post, which has since been deleted. The post also prompted the Secret Service to interview Shkreli. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The author sitting in Ford's fake self-driving car. (credit: Andy Schaudt / Virginia Tech) Last month we covered a "driverless" car roaming Virginia streets that turned out to really just be a normal car with the driver hidden inside a seat suit. Today, I got a chance to try the seat suit out for myself. You can't see my face, but this is a picture of me giving the thumbs-up sign from inside the suit. The research was led by Andy Schaudt, a researcher at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, in partnership with Ford. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let me take a test drive. Schaudt told me that they put their drivers through hours of training before letting them loose on public roads, and there wasn't time to give me the necessary training. Still, just from sitting in the seat, I could tell that driving the vehicle would be awkward. The suit is designed for the driver's arms to rest on his or her lap, gripping the steering wheel from below. Lifting my arms would cause the flimsy front of the suit to fold, ruining the illusion. So drivers were trained to turn the wheel gingerly while keeping their arms near the bottom. The study also added an extension to the turn signal so drivers could reach it without raising their arms. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Former Congressman Ron Paul: Not a fan of SpaceX. (credit: Pete Marovich/Getty Images) Three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul has written an opinion piece for Fox News that comes out swinging against SpaceX, accusing the company of benefiting from potentially having a monopoly on national security launches. The article also attacks US Sen. John McCain as a "lead sponsor" of provisions to give SpaceX a monopoly on launch services. "Allowing SpaceX to obtain a monopoly over launch services harms taxpayers much more than forbidding the Pentagon from purchasing Russian products harms Vladimir Putin," Paul writes. "If this provision becomes law, SpaceX will be able to charge the government more than they could in even a quasi-competitive market. This monopoly will also stifle innovation in rocket launching technology." Paul correctly notes that SpaceX has enjoyed substantial support from NASA, but, in return, the company has provided services at a significantly lower cost for the space agency. However, the irony of his "monopoly" argument is that it was SpaceX, and its Falcon 9 rocket, that brought competition into the Air Force launch services agreements. Before SpaceX was certified two years ago to compete for national security launch contracts, United Launch Alliance was the sole provider of these services for a decade. SpaceX has since provided launches at a large discount for the military. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Kaspersky Lab CEO and Chairman Eugene Kaspersky speaks at a conference in Russia on July 10, 2017. (credit: Anton NovoderezhkinTASS via Getty Images) The Department of Homeland security ordered government agencies to stop using any software products made by Kaspersky Lab. The department cited concern about possible ties between Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence. Agencies in the executive branch are expected to begin the process of discontinuing Kaspersky products within 90 days. According to a DHS statement posted online by Reuters reporter Dan Volz: Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Apple) During and after yesterday's Apple announcement of its FaceID unlocking feature for its new iPhone X, some brief discourse began on the Ars #staff Slack channel concerning legal rights when your face is your new passcode. It's a big deal, as this is the future of smartphone unlocking—largely because Apple says so. "This is the future of how we'll unlock our smartphones and protect our sensitive information," Apple VP Phil Schiller said. So let's start off with one fear an Ars colleague brought up. He suggested that the cops could take your phone and hold it up to your face to unlock it. Presumably, a mugger or nefarious actor could do the same thing. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A new mode allows you to change lighting scenarios for photos on the fly. To those familiar with past Apple upgrade conventions, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus might as well have been called the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus. They improve incrementally on two already good phones. But when we spent time with them at Apple’s Cupertino event, they felt a bit anemic compared not only to other phones in their category but to their own big brother, the iPhone X. The phones felt the same in our hands as the 7 and 7 Plus. The main difference is in texture—the back is made of glass now—meaning that fingerprint smudges were common, just like with the iPhone 4 some years ago. In fact, the Apple rep showing the phones carried a cloth with her to wipe the smudges off between demos. She wasn’t being persnickety; it was needed. We checked the bottom of the phone: no headphone jack, and there’s still a Lightning port. Given that the new Macs use Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C, it would have been nice to see Thunderbolt 3 instead, but we weren’t expecting that. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we're back with a slew of new deals to share. Today you can get $200 or $300 off a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ smartphone plus a bonus Gear VR headset when you participate in Samsung's trade-in program. You can also get the new Note 8 for as low as $629.99. Check out the rest of the deals below, too. Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The iPhone X’s screen fully covers the front of the device—almost. (credit: Samuel Axon) Apple christened the Steve Jobs Theater on its new campus in Cupertino, California, yesterday with a slew of product announcements. While iPhones took center-stage at the event, other devices under the Apple umbrella weren't left behind. Here's everything you need to know about the newest additions to the Apple product family. iPhones The iPhone X, pronounced "iPhone Ten," is Apple's $1,000 anniversary device with an edge-to-edge OLED display, facial recognition, and no Home button. Check out our iPhone X hands-on by senior reviews editor Samuel Axon to see the high-end device in better detail. The iPhone X was the showstopper, but Apple announced the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus that are more akin to last year's iPhone 7 models. AirPower is Apple's new wireless charging technology that works with the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 models, but it's not available yet. Apple Watch Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Comcast) Comcast on Tuesday said that it has started integrating YouTube into its X1 set-top boxes across the US. The two companies first announced the partnership this past February. Much like the deal Comcast struck with Netflix last year, the move will see the YouTube app sit in the X1’s home screen, allowing subscribers to put the popular video service on their TV without switching to a third-party device like a Roku or Apple TV. Comcast says it will also plant a handful of YouTube videos in its on-demand video section as well. Clips in the “Music” section of the on-demand menu, for instance, might feature music videos from the YouTube app. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Destroyed power lines hang above a road on September 12, 2017, two days after Hurricane Irma swept through the area. Power outages played a big role in Internet, TV, and phone disruptions. (credit: Getty Images | Spencer Platt ) More than 7 million subscribers to cable or wireline telecom services have lost service due to Hurricane Irma. "There are at least 7,184,909 (down from 7,597,945 yesterday) subscribers out of service in the affected areas in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia," the Federal Communications Commission reported Tuesday in its latest storm update. These are subscribers to Internet, TV, or phone service or some combination of the three. In addition to those 7 million, many subscribers in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands lost service. "Since there are widespread power outages in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, the FCC has received reports that large percentages of consumers are without either cable services or wireline service. Companies are actively working to restoring service," the FCC said. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / From the Department of Energy: "This photo shows the construction phase of a 16.5 MW DC solar farm built in Oxford, MA. This 130-acre property was previously known as the largest piggery in Massachusetts." (credit: Lucas Faria/ US Department of Energy) On Tuesday, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that utility-grade solar panels have hit cost targets set for 2020, three years ahead of schedule. Those targets reflect around $1 per watt and 6¢ per kilowatt-hour in Kansas City, the department’s mid-range yardstick for solar panel cost per unit of energy produced (New York is considered the high-cost end, and Phoenix, Arizona, which has much more sunlight than most other major cities in the country, reflects the low-cost end). Those prices don’t include an Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which makes solar panels even cheaper. The Energy Department said that the cost per watt was assessed in terms of total installed system costs for developers. That means the number is based on "the sales price paid to the installer; therefore, it includes profit in the cost of the hardware," according to a department presentation (PDF). The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a DOE-funded lab that assesses solar panel cost, wrote that, compared to the first quarter in 2016, the first quarter in 2017 saw a 29-percent decline in installed cost for utility-scale solar, which was attributed to lower photovoltaic module and inverter prices, better panel efficiency, and reduced labor costs. Despite the plummeting costs for utility-scale solar, costs for commercial and residential solar panels have not fallen quite as quickly—just 15 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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