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Hobbs’ administration touts collaborative effort between public and private sectors to spark climate, infrastructure legislation

AZ Capital Times

Gov. Katie Hobbs’ administration lauded federal dollars it says are creating “quality jobs” and boosting renewable energy projects at an event it hosted at Honeywell’s Advanced Air Lab in Phoenix today, where speakers discussed recent and upcoming clean energy commitments in Arizona.

The presenters summarized what they previously covered in a private roundtable discussion, focusing on the collaborative effort between public and private sectors to leverage federal climate and infrastructure legislation.

Blaise Caudill, Energy Policy Advisor for the Governor’s Office of Resiliency, opened by stating this is a “once in a generation – once in a lifetime opportunity” provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“These federal dollars are already being deployed throughout Arizona, creating quality jobs for Arizona families,” Caudill said. “Not only that, but these dollars are advancing the long-term resiliency of the state by investing in renewable energy projects, promoting electric vehicle charging infrastructure and lowering energy costs for families and forthcoming energy efficiency rebates for Arizona families.”

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was signed into law by President Joe Biden last August, is the largest climate investment in U.S. history. Utilizing private capital to initiate climate goals, the IRA intended to incentivize businesses to invest in developing clean energy technologies.

Additionally, the IRA encourages companies to locate in “underserved communities where job creation will have the largest impact on the well-being of those communities,” according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, by providing bonuses to some businesses.

Since the IRA’s passing, these climate investments have spurred $10.1 billion in investments in Arizona, which are expected to create over 13,000 jobs in the clean energy sector. Arizona ranks 10th in the nation for clean energy investments.

Caudill described the current landscape of Arizona’s clean energy economy as “thriving” and “emerging.”

Thus far, 16 new clean energy projects have been announced in Arizona, encompassing four sectors: solar, batteries, electric vehicles and electrical grid distribution and transmission.

Edwin Hernández‑Vargas, Manager of State and Local Affairs for KORE Power Gigafactory, which received $1.25 billion in investments since the IRA passed, said energy manufacturing has gone into “hyperdrive” which has increased the demand for batteries.

“At KORE Power we see this as an opportunity to bring in a renaissance through American manufacturing,” Hernández‑Vargas said.

KORE recently broke ground on a new facility in Buckeye, which Hernández‑Vargas said will be open in 2025, providing 1,250 job openings.

Hernández‑Vargas said funding provided by the legislation has also allowed companies to focus on keeping production within the country.

President and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council, Steven Zylstra, said electric vehicle charging station infrastructure is also expanding. The Arizona Department of Transportation has planned to eventually have a station every 50 miles on interstates and highways, part of $76.5 million in federal funding the state is eligible to receive through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program.

Honeywell Aerospace – which received funding after the IRA passed – is researching and developing technologies that will “move transportation from the road to the air,” in hopes of piloting the concept of electrically powered vertical take-off and landing aircrafts.

David Shilliday, Honeywell Aerospace Vice President and General Manager, said the benefits of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the IRA have been noticeable.

The aviation industry has committed to being carbon neutral by 2050, Shilliday said, and Honeywell has developed solutions that can ensure this is met sooner.

“Honeywell has taken advantage of those (benefits) relative to clean energy solutions, relative to staff benefits, as we look towards increasing the capacity of sustainable aviation fuel and as we upgrade some of our facilities,” Shilliday said.

Honeywell has focused on establishing clean energy solutions while maintaining the necessity to create jobs for Arizonans, he said.

Rather than focusing on a future alternative fuel solution, Shilliday said the solution to carbon neutrality can be found in the aircraft that exists today.

Lowering emissions produced by aircraft that already exist allows the aviation industry to focus on long-term investments — such as staffing the right scientists and engineers — that will eventually lead to carbon neutrality, he said.

“The ecosystem that we need to create to make sure that Arizona remains at the center of a clean economy requires not just establishing the facilities but the workforce of the future,” Shilliday said.

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