Tag Archives: energy industry

Energy Roadmap - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2012

AEC – Creating an Energy Roadmap To Bolster Arizona’s Renewable Sector

The Arizona Energy Consortium is creating an Energy Roadmap to complement Arizona’s existing energy sources and bolster the state’s renewable sector, which stretches from solar and wind power producers to energy-efficiency companies.

Think about being a placekicker and each time you line up to attempt a game-winning field goal, the goal posts shift.

That’s how Chris Davey, executive director of EnviroMission, an Australian firm with plans to build a 2,800-foot solar energy tower in western Arizona, describes what it can be like to do business as a developer of energy projects in Arizona.

“If you’ve got one regulatory body that you answer to and it changes midway through the process, it’s going to impact how you develop a project,” Davey says. “If you’ve got various government agencies that are meant to respond within a certain period of time and they take five times as long to do that, it creates uncertainty. It changes timelines and constantly moves the end zone.”

To help ease some of the uncertainty in Arizona’s energy industry, Davey has teamed up with Michelle De Blasi, a partner with Quarles & Brady who focuses her practice on guiding renewable energy projects from concept to completion, to co-chair the Arizona Energy Consortium (AEC).

“The AEC initiatives aren’t an academic exercise,” Davey says. “The AEC is not driven by the utilities, nor academics, nor regulators. It’s driven by industry and what’s best to ensure Arizona has a diverse energy future that maintains reliability and cost effectiveness.”

The AEC — a committee of the Arizona Technology Council (AZTC) — was created to become a member-driven voice for Arizona’s growing energy industry.

“We don’t have an energy plan,” De Blasi says. “We don’t have one nationally and we certainly don’t have one in the state. There are bits and pieces of a plan going on at any given time, but we don’t have a plan that guides us. Without that plan, it’s very difficult for Arizona to compete with other states that have much more clarity in their policies and incentives.”

BORN OUT OF A NEED

AEC1 factThe AEC’s broad cross sections of members — which include private, for profit and nonprofit companies; government and tribal organizations; and businesses that range in specialties from solar to title companies — show that there is a relatively unified belief that the state has to do something to become more competitive and friendly to the energy sector. And the AEC’s rapid growth — it has grown from about 40 members to more than 200 in less than six months — shows that the belief is strong.

“The AEC was born out of a necessity, from a true need for a platform for all affected stakeholders to come together and try to drive change, influence change and ultimately have an energy policy or roadmap in place that gets implemented and provides a fair playing surface,” Davey says. “We need a plan that says, ‘Here are the boundaries, you might be a little off on the left or on the right, but you need to know that you are still within those boundaries.’ As a developer, we have to know where the goal posts are.”

Part of establishing those boundaries is getting legislators, business owners and regulators on the same page.

Government policy has enormous impact on business, says Margaret LaBianca, a shareholder with Polsinelli Shughart, who counsels clients on a broad range of regulatory compliance and strategic considerations with respect to renewable energy. AEC pulls from all realms of the energy industry, which provides a broad view of the real-life implications of legal constraints and incentives. The upshot will be an ability to identify policies that best position Arizona’s energy industry for the long term.

What makes the AEC different from other energy groups in the state is that it is a statewide collaborative — members can sit in on meeting via video conferencing or by phone from anywhere in the world — that is applying its collective expertise to develop a long term strategic plan for energy industry growth. Also, the group isn’t focused on one energy sector. Fossil fuels, nuclear energy, natural gas and renewable energy are all treated the same and viewed from a big-picture perspective.

“This is probably strange because here I am pursuing a high-profile solar project and I’m the biggest advocate for energy diversity,” Davey says. “The AEC isn’t just another green initiative. It’s about energy and creating a diverse energy portfolio. Diversity is good for business.”

THE BUSINESS OF ENERGY

AEC2 factThe AEC’s mission is to promote economic development initiatives and technological innovations across the state, organizers say. To accomplish that, the AEC works with other Arizona organizations, including the Arizona Governor’s Energy Office, GPEC, elected officials, the Arizona Corporation Commission, Arizona tribes, Arizona utilities and local governments.

Despite all the hard work completed by a number of Arizona stakeholders — from the governor’s office to GPEC — it is difficult for the industry to prosper while policies are unclear.

“It’s almost a daily call I get from people saying, ‘Hey, I’d like to set up my business there. What are your policies on this or that?’” De Blasi says. “I have to answer, ‘It’s not exactly clear.’ It’s frustrating for me and for potential businesses looking at Arizona, so sometimes they don’t come here. They go to California or New Mexico or Colorado where they have great policies.”

One fact that illustrates the problem: Phoenix-based De Blasi does more work with renewable energy in Massachusetts than she does in Arizona.

“If you look at the states that have been successful — California, Oregon, New Jersey, Massachusetts — it’s a wholesale buy-in,” De Blasi says. “It’s the governor. It’s the legislature. It’s the governing entity for their utilities. They go farther and have taken advantage of federal incentives to attract business.”

So why isn’t Arizona — with its 300 days of sunshine a year — a player?

“You’ve got your traditional power guys that are entrenched in the communities, they’ve been there forever because most power plants have been around a long time,” Davey says. “So you’ve got your fossil fuel technologies that have been around forever and then something new comes forward — whether that is solar, wind, geothermal, biomass — and it upsets the status quo. Most people want to see innovation happen, but they are scared to go down that path because it’s still relatively unknown.”

Not only is there a fear of the unknown, it’s the fear of higher production costs that keeps more energy innovation from happening.

“One of the defining challenges for the next decade and especially over the next century, will be to find an appropriate balance between the competing needs to supply electricity that is reliable, affordable and stays under an acceptable level of environmental impact,” says Mark Bonsall, general manager and CEO of Salt River Project (SRP). “One thing is clear – all the options are more expensive than our current portfolio of resources.”

LEGISLATIVE ROADBLOCKS

AEC3 factFor some lawmakers, the fear may lie in being more concerned with losing votes than on losing economic development for the state. “We have incredibly cheap power here,” De Blasi says.

“We have a nuclear power plant that supplies us with efficient and cheap energy. People are used to that. That has fed into legislators not wanting to be responsible for raising people’s energy rates by forcing the utilities to spend money replacing traditional energy with renewables.”

One of the AEC’s goals, De Blasi says, is to work with the legislators to help create legislation that promotes business.

“I would love for us to be a resource for the legislators to come to as a neutral body, with a pro-business mindset,” De Blasi says. “It would help tremendously if lawmakers reached out to the community and asked what they thought proposed legislation would do to industry and get community input before they put bills out onto the street that wreak havoc on the industry and wreak havoc on financing. By the time they have to pull them back or resend them, the damage is already done.”

Providing guidance and education for legislators will be the key to developing Arizona’s energy industry in the future, Davey says.

“We have to get lawmakers to support the right bills and educate them the right way so the right bills get written,” he stresses. “Instead of having something out there that provides a lot of uncertainty when you are trying to get a project delivered, we just want to provide a level of clarity that doesn’t necessarily remove a whole lot of due process; it just makes it clear so that when you’re developing something, you know what the next hurdle is going to be.”

It’s clear that Arizona legislators need to stop and listen to the needs of their constituents. According to a new poll from the Arizona Working Families Coalition, almost half of the likely voters surveyed said job creation — including those that would arise from changes in the energy sector — should be legislators’ top priority.

“It’s clear that voters want their legislators to stay out of working people’s financial decisions and to focus on the economy,” says John Loredo, who is working with Arizona Working Families and is the former Arizona House minority leader. “If lawmakers continue to ignore the priorities of the people who put them in office, there will be some real consequences for them in November.”

The first step toward removing some of those hurdles came in November 2011 when the AEC unveiled “Arizona’s Solar Strategic Plan,” a document that proposes recommended actions for the long-term growth of the state’s solar industry. The recommendations focused on technology innovation, manufacturing and power generation.

“The Strategic Plan is meant to guide Arizona’s growing solar industry along a sustainable path,” De Blasi says. “Our goals are increased jobs, economic development, energy self-sufficiency and security, technology innovation and reduced greenhouse gas emissions — all resulting from increased use of solar energy as a component of a broader energy strategy. The AEC will be working hard to pull together the stakeholders to ensure that the plan is implemented — the crucial step that has been missing with previous proposed plans.”

The plan’s recommendations include incentives — preferably back-end performance-based funds — to nurture existing solar companies and attract new firms; looking for ways to attract private investment; and longer-term utility incentives to spur demand, rather than the current year-to-year options.

“We’re in a conservative state and there is some resistance to renewable energy, but there is nothing better than taxing the sun,” Davey says. “If we think about it from a more broad perspective, where it’s not just about servicing Arizona’s needs, it’s about servicing our neighbor’s needs as well. If there is policy in place that adversely affects our ability to build here, it also affects our ability to generate energy that we could sell out of state, which is something everyone in the business community wants to achieve.”

De Blasi and Davey say the Strategic Plan will serve as a jumping off point for the AEC to develop a broader Energy Roadmap that will be a catalyst to attract new business and create a more friendly energy-industry environment.

“The end result will be not unlike the long-term Bioscience Roadmap initiated by the Flinn Foundation, designed to make the state’s life sciences sector globally competitive,” says Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “Arizona possesses many of the essential elements necessary to become a global leader in energy, but must strengthen its focus, collaboration and will to achieve this goal.”

THE ENERGY ROADMAP

AEC4 factThe AEC formed an Energy Roadmap subcommittee — led by De Blasi and Davey — to work with stakeholders and coordinate efforts that will further develop Arizona’s energy industry.

“There is the throwaway line that we want to be the Saudi Arabia of solar,” Davey says. “But right now, we are so far away from that, it doesn’t even matter.”

To ensure a competitive and secure economic future, De Blasi and Davey say the state must have a consensus-driven plan that will create a sustainable, safe, reliable, affordable, efficient, and diversified energy supply. Taking a page from the Bioscience Roadmap — which, since 2002, has helped Arizona increase the number of bioscience jobs by 41 percent and increase the state’s number of bioscience firms by 27 percent — De Blasi and Davey hope to design the Arizona Energy Roadmap, that will optimize Arizona’s unique assets, integrate regional investments and attract national and international interest as a place from which to conduct business.

“When you work in the energy industry every day, you realize the issues,” De Blasi says. “So to come up with a plan for the state, it’s just a matter of putting pen to paper and asking, ‘If I had my ultimate project or ultimate policies, what would that be? What are the stumbling blocks? What are the issues? What needs to be fixed and how do we go about fixing the problems?’”

The key issues that De Blasi and Davey say need to be addressed to make Arizona a more dynamic player in the energy industry are government policy and how it impacts the financing of energy projects; transmission of energy and how Arizona looks at transmission from both a statewide and regional perspective; and the state’s ability to use tax benefits to help different energy projects, something that has been difficult to make happen in Arizona, Davey says.

“It’s critical to change the message we send to potential developers — whether it’s the renewable energy industry or natural gas industry — and to stop pointing fingers and start working together and realize this is an energy mix,” De Blasi says. “Do we just want to be someone who gets all the crumbs from our neighboring states because that’s what we’ve gotten so far, or do we really want to be someone who leads and gets the benefit of the economic development and all the things that follow?”

To develop the content, identify issues, and generate feedback for the Roadmap, Davey and De Blasi are not turning to the usual suspects.

“They may not all be in the energy industry,” De Blasi says. “We want to talk with folks who have been in different industries, but have been successful in growing those industries. We want to pull in different ideas, different thoughts so that we can put together a comprehensive plan that we can implement successfully and will drive business.”

The most important thing the Energy Roadmap will do, Davey says, is create some clarity in an industry that has lacked clarity up until this point.

“Perception is reality,” Davey points out. “When you have a document — even if it’s not fully implemented yet — the perception will be that at least the state is moving in the right direction. It will be what helps differentiate us or at least put us on a level playing field with others who already have plans in place.”

De Blasi and Davey say they hope to have the Arizona Energy Roadmap drafted within the next couple months, although elements of the energy roadmap — such as the Solar Strategic Plan — may be released in stages. But once it’s released and implemented, Davey says it will send a message to developers like himself.

“It will say to the world, ‘Arizona is open for business,’” he says. “Once you provide clarity and certainty, money follows and projects get done. Once projects are done, there is job creation and a new diverse economy that comes from a supply chain. We will end up with different glass manufacturers, plastic manufacturers, steel manufacturers, aluminum manufacturers, and fabricators that are going to be here that aren’t here today. You’re going to have the best engineers here. Their kids are going to go to school here, so the education system will be impacted.

“Arizona has the land, the environment, the proximity to an incredible market, to not only put something in place to service our domestics market, but to service neighboring markets as well,” Davey says. “So if the Energy Roadmap is able to create an environment that creates that certainty and clarity so that business can prosper, that would be something pretty good to walk away from.”

For those individuals and companies who want to become a member of the AEC and are not already members of the Arizona Technology Council, the AZTC is waiving its membership requirement to participate in the AEC for 2012. For more information, contact Lauren Ferrigni at lferrigni@aztechcouncil.org.

For more information on the Arizona Energy Consortium and the Energy Roadmap, visit the Arizona Technical Council’s website at aztechcouncil.org/committees/aec.

Go to related article – Power Brokers Leading the Charge

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Arizona Energy Consortium - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2012

Arizona Energy Consortium – Power Brokers Leading The Charge

The Arizona Energy Consortium is establishing the energy roadmap to create a brighter economic future for Arizona. The following individuals are leading the charge.

Robert Bowling - First SolarRobert Bowling
Company: First Solar  

Position with Arizona Energy Consortium:
Co-Chair of the Workforce Development Committee, which focuses its efforts on current barriers to Arizona’s energy workforce development, as well as devising potential solutions to overcome such barriers.

Relationship to the energy industry:
25 years of power generation experience in Fossil, Hydro and PV.

Why he became involved with the AEC:
“Having always been ‘involved’ in various initiatives throughout Arizona, I saw the value that this consortium has towards the greater good for all Arizonans.”

Why he thinks Arizona needs the AEC:
“As a nation we all understand the various issues surrounding energy dependence. The Arizona Energy Consortium will help AZ be the leader in a variety of energy issues.”

Predicted impact the AEC will make on Arizona by 2022:
“Hopefully by making Arizona the leader in lost cost, sustainable energy production and a hub for energy innovations.”

Tekla Taylor - Golder AssociatesTekla Taylor
Company: Golder Associates, Inc.

Position with Arizona Energy Consortium:
Co-Chair of the Membership Committee, which is dedicated to growing the Arizona Energy Consortium in terms of membership recruitment, as well as promoting the AEC in the form of event planning and hosting. Members of this committee will be responsible for identifying members who could positively contribute to, as well as benefit from, involvement within the AEC.

Relationship to the energy industry:
Manager, Golder Energy Services US

Why she become involved with the AEC:
“Actively participating in AEC keeps us informed of the opportunities and challenges that face energy sector growth in Arizona thereby impacting our clients.”

Why she thinks Arizona needs the AEC:
“Collaboration among all stakeholders in the industry is critical to ensuring long term success and placing Arizona as a leader in the renewable energy market.”

Predicted impact the AEC will make on Arizona by 2022:
“Through design and implementation of innovative renewable market solutions, AEC will have a significant impact on market sector growth, diversity and economic development.”

Mary Wolf-Francis - DIRTT Environmental SolutionsMary Wolf-Francis
Company: DIRTT Environmental Solutions

Position with Arizona Energy Consortium:
Co-Chair of the Energy Efficiency Committee, which is responsible for reviewing energy efficiency programs, as well as current barriers to energy efficiency across a wide range of Arizona energy sectors (solar, natural gas, oil, coal, nuclear, wind, geothermal, etc.). Members are encouraged upon review of energy efficiency barriers, to develop potential solutions that would maximize energy efficiency and encourage future Arizona project development.

Relationship to the energy industry:
Business liaison for the State Energy Sector Partnership Grant that brought the Arizona Energy Consortium into fruition as part of the objectives in the grant.

Why she became involved with the AEC:
Brought companies in energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainability and utilities together to discuss creating the AEC then passed the torch to Michelle De Blasi and Steve Zylstra at the Arizona Technology Council.

Why she thinks Arizona needs the AEC:
“Companies in Arizona need to work together to grow and sustain energy companies here in the state.

Predicted impact the AEC will make on Arizona by 2022:
“The AEC will be the catalyst for diversifying our energy companies here in Arizona to reduce our reliance on the grid.”

Chris Davey - EnviroMissionChris Davey
Company: EnviroMission

Position with Arizona Energy Consortium:
Co-chair of the Arizona Energy Consortium and co-chair of the Energy Roadmap Committee, which will focus its efforts on developing and implementing an Energy Sector Roadmap for Arizona. Documents such as, Arizona’s Solar Strategic Plan and Arizona Town Hall’s AZ’s Energy Future Report will be utilized in constructing the Energy Sector Roadmap.

Relationship to the energy industry:
As executive director of EnviroMission, he has been vital to the development of the first U.S. Solar Tower project in western Arizona. He has negotiated a number of Power Purchase Agreements, secured parcels of land with both governmental and private bodies, raised capital to deliver the unique Solar Tower technology and advocated on behalf of the solar industry.

Why he became involved with the AEC:
“I want to put something in place to make it easier for people to get done what I’m getting done now. I’m from 8,000 miles away, but I call Arizona home now and I want to make it a better place.”

Michelle De Blasi - Quarles & BradyMichelle De Blasi
Company: Quarles & Brady

Position with Arizona Energy Consortium:
Co-chair of the Arizona Energy Consortium and co-chair of the Energy Roadmap Committee, which will focus its efforts on developing and implementing an Energy Sector Roadmap for Arizona. Documents such as Arizona’s Solar Strategic Plan and Arizona Town Hall’s AZ’s Energy Future Report will be utilized in constructing the Energy Sector Roadmap.

Relationship to the energy industry:
She is chair of the firm’s Solar Energy Law Team and focuses her practice on guiding renewable energy projects from concept to completion. In addition, she practices in the area of environmental and natural resources law advising clients on federal and state air and water quality issues.

Why she became involved with the AEC:
“With its solar resource and geographic proximity to target markets such as California, Arizona has an opportunity to revitalize its economy by continuing to grow its clean energy sector. By combining business leadership with guidance for good public policy, the Arizona Energy Consortium will play an important role in helping Arizona achieve its clean energy sector expansion goals.”

Ann Marie Chischilly, Esq. - ITEP at NAUAnn Marie Chischilly, Esq.
Company: Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) at Northern Arizona University

Position with Arizona Energy Consortium:
Co-chair of the Public Outreach Committee, which is responsible for educating investors, developers, legislators, and the general public on the Arizona Energy Consortium and the energy industry.

Relationship to the energy industry:
“I began my work in the energy industry as an attorney with the Gila River Indian Community and founded their Renewable Energy Team in 2010. I began my position at NAU in April 2011 and have been developing the Tribal Clean Energy Resource Center, which will help tribes and Alaska Native Villages transition from fossil fuel based energy to clean and renewable energy. For 20 years, ITEP has become a national leader in training and educating tribes in the environmental mediums and has served more than 500 of the 565 tribes nationally.”

Why she become involved with the AEC:
“I want the 22 tribes of Arizona to be included in the process of developing the Energy Roadmap and seeking their input is essential to accomplishing the mission.”

Why she thinks Arizona needs the AEC:
“Arizona has many great organizations, but AEC captures all of them into one group and unites the renewable-energy sector. Becoming more organized and united will make Arizona a leader in this industry.”

Predicted impact the AEC will make on Arizona by 2022:
”The AEC will help Arizona become a leader in the renewable energy industry nationally.”

For more information on Arizona Energy Consortium, visit Arizona Technology Council’s website at aztechcouncil.org/committees/aec.

Go to related article – AEC – Creating an Energy Roadmap

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

first solar - new ceo

First Solar Appoints Hughes CEO

First Solar, Inc. announced that James Hughes has been appointed Chief Executive Officer. Hughes succeeds Mike Ahearn, First Solar’s founder and Chairman, who has been serving as interim CEO since Oct. 2011. Hughes joined First Solar in March as Chief Commercial Officer. Ahearn will continue in his role as Chairman of the Board.

“Jim has been instrumental in developing the strategic plan that will enable us to compete and win in this new era for the solar industry, and it became clear he is the right person to lead the execution of that plan,” said Ahearn. “Jim brings a wide range of experience that will be invaluable in leading our organization, having owned and operated utilities, built power projects, cultivated partnerships and led profitable growth in a wide array of key markets around the world.”

“I am excited for this opportunity to lead First Solar into a new era for the industry,” said Hughes. “First Solar is unrivaled in terms of talent and experience and has the premier platform from which to implement solar power at a meaningful scale around the world. The rapid cost reductions in the industry position solar at the threshold of the mainstream energy markets, and we are well-positioned to capitalize on that opportunity.”

Hughes has nearly 20 years of experience in the global energy industry. Before joining First Solar, he served as the CEO of AEI, which owned and operated power distribution, conventional and renewable power generation, natural gas transportation and natural gas distribution businesses in 19 countries. Prior to that, he was President and Chief Operating Officer for Prisma Energy.

Hughes earned a juris doctor from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, a Certificate of Completion in international business law from Queen Mary’s College, University of London, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern Methodist University.

For more information on First Solar, visit First Solar’s website at firstsolar.com.

Renewable Energy

Arizona’s Renewable Energy Industry Generates $2B, Thousands Of Jobs

The renewable energy sector is a $2 billion industry with an estimated 16,800 jobs created in 2011, according to a new study conducted by Elliot D. Pollack & Company. The report was commissioned by Pinal Partnership with support from Arizona Forward and was released at the Renewable Energy Economic Summit & Conference hosted by both organizations last week. More than 200 industry professionals attended this sold-out conference held in Casa Grande.

Renewable energy is still a small part of the overall economy in Arizona, which totals 1.7 million jobs in the Phoenix area alone. However, to put this in perspective consider the copper industry — one of the state’s original five Cs  — which generates only 9,000 jobs with 70 percent of the country’s copper produced in Arizona. Another positive is that recent job growth in the renewable energy industry has helped replace lost construction jobs.

Public policy, energy efficiency, untapped renewables and the future role of solar in Arizona’s economy were among the other topics addressed by four different panel sessions featuring industry experts. They noted that while Arizona has some of the best clean energy resources in the nation, we are still behind other states in harnessing new energy development.

Regulatory uncertainties, global competition, rapid changes in technology, along with financing, siting and transmission issues are all challenges the industry faces. Panelists suggested that we must work together to maintain a reasonable level of support for solar and renewable energy technologies both through incentives and policy.

In order to continue to grow the renewable energy sector, the Pollack report recommends Arizona become more involved in the manufacturing of components and products to export to places like California where much of the installation activity is happening. Arizona has less regulatory intrusion and a much lower manufacturing cost base than its West Coast neighbors.

What’s promising is that with leadership at the federal, state and local levels, we can expand the renewable energy sector and create new jobs while enhancing our environmental quality. Public and private sectors must work together to identify and foster long-term policy solutions. The Grand Canyon state is uniquely poised to be a leader in clean energy, which will benefit the economy, communities and environment.

For more information about renewable energy, Elliot D. Pollack & Company or Arizona Forward, visit edpco.com or valleyforward.org.

EcoFlight, sustainable environment, Photo: Valley Forward

Sonoran Institute, Arizona Wilderness Coalition Encourage A Sustainable Environment

Two non-profit organizations are working together to foster a sustainable environment and vibrant economy in the West Valley, recognizing the natural and cultural assets of these communities.

I was honored the Sonoran Institute and the Arizona Wilderness Coalition recently invited me to take an airplane tour to see and hear first hand about their efforts. Our six-person EcoFlight plane took off from Deer Valley Airport for an arial exploration of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management that may be suitable for solar/renewable energy development. These lands are included in the Sonoran Desert Heritage conservation proposal and are the target of a desert protection campaign to protect BLM lands for current residents and future generations.

A vast expanse of public lands are included in the conservation proposal, forming a crescent from the Lake Pleasant area, expanding west to the county border region, then curving east to the Sonoran Desert National monument. This comprehensive solution for ecosystem protection ensures the best possible integration of a variety of uses and users. The Sonoran Institute has been reaching out to a wide cross section of stakeholders, including land managers, developers, the military, local governments, user groups and other like-minded organizations, such as Valley Forward, that have an interest in both conservation land and renewable energy.

EcoFlight supports the initiative and helps foster public outreach by providing aviation services to those interested in land use issues associated with solar facilities and wind generating turbines. This unique group educates its passengers on how these renewable energy facilities will affect wildlife and conversation efforts. Seeing is believing; it’s an amazing perspective to view from above the corridors that exist or must be created to transmit and harness natural energy.

Conservation of these public lands provides many benefits, including protecting cultural resources, key wildlife habitat, water and air quality and recreational opportunities. As Western Maricopa County continues to grow over the coming decades, these valuable landscapes will be protected into perpetuity.

The bottom line is a robust renewable energy industry, and the economic prosperity that comes with it can be realized in a thoughtful manner that is respectful of our natural resources, including our wildlife, water and public lands.

Barry Broome, GPEC president and CEO - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

GPEC’s President And CEO, Barry Broome Talks About Getting The Valley’s Economy Back On Track

Give us a look ahead at Greater Phoenix’s major industries.

The emergence of solar and renewable energy has been, and will continue to be, a big opportunity for us. We need to learn, as a market, how to be involved in new technology initiatives. There are going to be wins, losses and volatility, but the renewable space is going to continue to grow.

From January to November 2010, 1,350 jobs and $153 million in capital investment have been created. Renewable energy projects now make up about 28 percent of the companies looking at our region.

In addition to the renewable energy industry, health care, life sciences and information communication technology will expand next year. All of this is plagued by inconsistency in the capital markets. There is not enough private equity and there is no real IPO (initial public offering) market. Whenever you are building a new technology, it is really important that capital markets are responsive.

What kinds of jobs does GPEC look to attract and grow in Greater Phoenix?

We’re probably having the best year for attracting engineers and professional jobs that GPEC has ever had as an organization. These quality jobs are fueled by the fact that renewable energy is the new technology space.

GPEC is performing at a high level, even though the country is still in a recession. We have already driven 4,400 jobs to Greater Phoenix from July to October 2010. Of those jobs, 66 percent provide high wages. We want to see even more high-quality jobs this year. Hopefully, we will continue to drive regional headquarters, and professional services and technology jobs in the region.

GPEC talks a lot about competitiveness. Why is this important, and what specifically is GPEC doing to make the region more competitive?

For a long time, GPEC has focused efforts on increasing the region’s competitiveness. It’s absolutely critical because every major investment is analyzed by people with very astute backgrounds for its financial implications, talent and long-term viability. The most common differentiating point for a market is its competitive position. We look at the cost of doing business, the speed of doing business, ability to attract talent and access to capital.

GPEC has several initiatives to push Greater Phoenix into more globally competitive circles. The region — historically — has relied on retail, construction and real estate sectors to our own detriment. We have a high-quality job formula. Arizona will increase its competitive position with GPEC’s proposal to drive large company expansions, increasing our local, talented work force, and improving our tax climate. Working on job creation legislation with Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO), rural partners, the Arizona Commerce Authority and chamber partners is going to be really important this year. GPEC also works closely with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Small Business Association, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Leadership, and our communities and mayors.

It wasn’t that long ago, just four years ago, that Arizona was ranked No. 1 in the country for job growth. Now, we have fallen to almost last in the country — 48th place. We need to understand how to improve the environment for business and compete in new technologies and industries. That is going to make the difference for Greater Phoenix as it recovers from the housing slump and shifts the job base away from the real estate industry to export industries.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Job Increase

Green Jobs, Good Future

We are all very aware of the plight our economy is facing, but there is one bright spot in the darkness of the recession — green jobs.

According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the number of green jobs in the United States grew 9.1 percent from 1998 to 2007. Traditional jobs, on the other hand grew by only 3.7 percent in this time frame. This trend was also reflected on a state level.

This is great news, not just for the world of “green” but also for the economic future of our country. It shows that even, or rather especially, in troubled times we are recognizing the importance of sustainability.

The study also stated that “America’s clean energy economy has grown despite a lack of sustained government support in the past decade. By 2007, more than 68,200 businesses across all 50 states and the District of Columbia accounted for about 770,000 jobs.”

And there’s more good news. While many who have been lucky enough to avoid layoffs still live in fear of possibly being let go, 73 percent of respondents in North America to the first ever Carbon Salary Survey reported that they feel safe in their jobs, thanks to ever-increasing attention being placed on the sustainability sector.

I find this information comforting and refreshing. Comforting because it’s nice to know that even in this bleak environment there are still job possibilities out there, and refreshing because well, quite simply it’s refreshing to hear at least some positive news.

Here’s to a greater, greener future.

Source:
Pew Charitable Trusts
Carbon Salary Survey

Michael Bidwill Arizona Cardinals

Q&A: Michael Bidwill, President, Arizona Cardinals

During these difficult economic times, how vital is an organization such as the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) to the local economy?
GPEC is vitally important because it is the only regional organization focused exclusively on bringing new business to Greater Phoenix. Because GPEC works closely with companies considering expansion to the region, they know what companies need to make business decisions and gain insight into what steps the state can take to better compete with our Mountain West competitor states.

What can the Valley do to better position itself to succeed once the recession is over?
Diversify our economy and work with public sector leaders to create sensible, new programs that bring high-wage industries to Arizona. During the last decade of the real estate explosion, Arizona was one of the leading job-producing states. Over the last two years, we have fallen to 49th in terms of new job creation. Business as usual will not work. Now is the time to change our metrics and compete for other industries to migrate to Arizona.

Arizona and Greater Phoenix routinely lose projects to less desirable locations because of aggressive relocation programs in other states. GPEC has developed modest, fiscally responsible programs, such as the Quality Jobs Through Renewable Industries program, for the Arizona Legislature to consider. GPEC has vetted these programs with decision-makers in the renewable energy industry. Senior executives within these industries have told us this program would put Arizona in a more competitive position to win projects. GPEC also had Elliott D. Pollack and Company conduct a third-party review of our program to confirm its fiscal impact.

We need to immediately work with the state to develop and implement new programs that make our region more competitive.

What are some of the initiatives and goals you have planned this year for GPEC, and how will you go about achieving those goals?
In addition to solar and renewable energy, GPEC has three other strategies that we feel are meaningful generators of new business. We continue to work aggressively on a foreign direct investment program, as the United States is still an attractive environment to invest in for international companies. Next, in working with many of our public sector leaders, we are actively seeking to locate companies to Greater Phoenix from neighboring states with higher operating costs of doing business. Lastly, health care in Arizona is an untapped resource. In fact, Arizonans routinely seek health care outside of the state valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. We need to work with the health care industry to determine the needs not currently being met in Arizona and look to those opportunities for economic growth.

How did you first become involved in GPEC and how have your own professional experiences prepared you for your current role?
The Arizona Cardinals have long been stakeholders of GPEC, as we believed in its important work. I had no personal involvement until Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs asked me to serve on the GPEC board three years ago. I was honored to join and realized quickly how critical this organization is to helping our local economy grow, especially during this downturn and with the state’s budget cuts to the Arizona Department of Commerce.

You’ve seen first hand how important professional sports are to the local and regional economy. How can the Valley capitalize more on that in the future?
Sports are important to Arizona and we need to support what we have now. But, again, we need to focus on diversifying our economy. Like a personal stock portfolio, we cannot become “over-weighted” in any single sector. We have all the teams we need, but it will be important to attract events with significant economic impacts and exposure like the Super Bowl in the future. Our regional success will depend largely on creating a diverse and vibrant economy around many new industries and we can’t look to real estate or sports to take us out of this downturn.

Steven Lockhard TPI Composites

Steven Lockard – President And CEO, TPI Composites

When the goal is to carve out a spot on the cutting edge of green-energy technology, it helps to be in the business of making blades.

That’s the case with TPI Composites Inc., a privately held company now headquartered in Scottsdale that devotes a significant portion of its business to manufacturing massive wind-turbine blades used by such clients as Mitsubishi Power Systems and GE Energy. TPI Composites, which is also involved in the transportation and military vehicle markets, employs about 2,800 worldwide and operates facilities that house about 1.1 million square feet of manufacturing floor space in the United States, Mexico and China.

“Wind energy is our largest business,” says Steven Lockard, president and CEO. “It’s the business that is expanding at the most rapid pace.”

That expansion, which represents around 80 percent of the company’s annual sales, is indicative of an industry that has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years.

Lockard sees wind energy as a clean, reliable source of electricity and job creation, two areas addressed frequently in recent election campaigns.

“Three or four years ago when we had meetings in Washington, oftentimes we were trying to convince people that wind could become big enough to matter one day,” he says. “And that’s no longer the case.”

It matters now. In 2007, the domestic wind-energy industry expanded its power-generating capacity by 45 percent, installing 5,244 megawatts of wind power, according to the American Wind Energy Association. That accounted for about 30 percent of the nation’s new power-producing capacity and represented $9 billion injected into the economy. Through three quarters of 2008, wind power was on pace to add 7,500 megawatts by year’s end.

And when it comes to job creation, TPI Composites plays a vital role. A newly opened 316,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Newton, Iowa, is expected to employ about 500 workers when it reaches full capacity. That is a welcomed development in a town hit hard by job losses when its Maytag Corp. plant closed down in 2007.

Although Lockard is optimistic about the long-term prospects for wind energy, he is also realistic about the short term, suggesting the industry may continue to be impacted by the capital crisis through, at least, the first part of 2009. His observations are exclusive to wind energy, an industryenjoying record gains of late, but there may be a warning here for other high-tech businesses dealing with current financial conditions.

“We would expect to see perhaps more modest growth (in 2009) … not the same degree of growth that we’ve been experiencing the last few years,” Lockard says.

www.tpicomposites.com