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Arizona clean energy news and information

A Commitment to Renewable Energy Is a Commitment to Jobs for Arizonans

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by Joe Rinzel, Employers for Renewable Energy

Over the past decade, advances in renewable energy have made it much more affordable to power the average home or business. Not only is the cheaper price of solar and wind attractive to businesses, but its continued growth makes it a real economic bargaining tool for states to lure in companies to relocate, bringing more jobs and opportunities for residents. 

Arizona currently champions itself on pro-business policies like low corporate tax rates, less red tape, and growing demographics. But with nearly all neighboring states committed to lofty renewable energy goals and recently introduced legislation that puts into question the state’s path towards the same, Arizona stands to lose out on the next decade’s economic race. 

Last fall, the bipartisan Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) voted 4 to 1 to require state utilities to provide half of their power from renewable sources by 2035 and 100% by 2050, an expansion from a 2006 requirement of running 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2025. California, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico have each held themselves accountable to reach similar levels of renewable use within the next thirty years. 

Legislation in both the Arizona House (HB 2248) and Senate (SB 1175) seeks to remove the ACC’s ability to set renewable energy standards. Proponents of these measures argue that the ACC has overstepped its constitutional authority of rate making by establishing energy policy that ought to be decided by the legislature. 

The question of whether the ACC or the State Legislature should be tasked with setting energy policy is one for the elected officials and voters of this state. However, not having a renewable standard in place threatens Arizona’s ability to lure new businesses who are otherwise attracted to the state’s competitive tax regimes and other business friendly policies. It’s why respected business organizations like the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce oppose this legislation.

These state targets showcase a willingness to respond to consumer and business demand for expanded resource selection when it comes to energy generation. Businesses nationwide–from large corporations to small retailers–have already made public commitments to running their organizations on clean renewable energy. Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies have made targets to increase use of renewable energy or implement energy efficiency programs. And while this trend has obvious environmental benefits, it must be seen through an economic lens. 

Renewable energy not only is more affordable today but it’s becoming cheaper, year after year for companies. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the cost of solar photovoltaics fell by 82% between 2010 and 2019 while the cost of onshore and offshore wind decreased by 39% and 29%, respectively. This dramatic decrease in energy generation makes the decision not to convert to renewables a costly one for companies. 

Furthermore, many large technology employers have made serious investments in renewable energy infrastructure such as using battery technology to better optimize changes in energy usage at the company’s data centers. While retailers, such as Target and Walmart, have placed solar panels on hundreds of store rooftops throughout the country as a way to directly deploy their own energy solutions. 

The benefits of renewable energy do not only help a company’s bottom line. Local communities are competing with their neighboring states to attract jobs and investment by helping businesses achieve their stated renewable energy goals. 

Business leaders have been crystal clear on their commitments to invest in renewable energy. If it’s decided that the ACC should not set renewable standards, then legislators will have to decide if Arizona will continue to lead on attracting new businesses to the state by committing to achieving 100% renewable energy. 

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A Commitment to Renewable Energy Is a Commitment to Jobs for Arizonans

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