An unlikely group of bedfellows gathered for a private meeting last month to discuss the future of energy policy in Arizona. While they didn’t solve any issues, there is a measure of success in simply convening dialogue among this small but powerful group of diverse stakeholders representing the governor’s office, state legislature, Arizona Corporation Commission, utilities, private industry and the nonprofit sector. Objective, civil discourse on sometimes contentious topics can be productive.
The renewable energy sector has made inroads in Arizona, including the following notable accomplishments:
- In 2001, Arizona established one of the first Renewable Portfolio Standards in the U.S. and today are targeting 15 percent by 2025, with the highest solar carve out in the nation.
- The National Renewable Energy Lab ranks Arizona the best state for solar capacity.
- Greater Phoenix is home to both pioneering research institutions as well as the world’s largest solar generation projects.
- Arizona offers renewable companies refundable corporate income tax credits and reduced real and personal property taxes. Arizona passed landmark legislation opening the door for renewable energy companies to expand here — not just solar, but also wind, biofuel, geothermal and other technologies.
- Our major utilities are servicing more than 30,000 Arizona customers with rooftop solar.
- In addition, utilities have installed more than 316 MWs of energy through large-scale solar projects and 225 MW of wind energy in the state.
- We have relatively low electricity rates compared to many other states in the country.
- And, our energy efficiency standard is also very aggressive.
However, energy policy in Arizona has gone virtually unchanged since we became a state 100 years ago, so it is inevitably time to evaluate and explore what’s next and best for our state’s energy future. As a non-partisan, third-party interest, Arizona Forward is committed to helping ascertain how major stakeholders can work together on critical statewide issues and is dedicated to continuing this productive dialogue among energy sector leaders.