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My View: Federal legislation energizes Arizona for a cleaner tomorrow

Phoenix Business Journal

Imagine a different sort of America. Imagine that by 2030, homes, businesses and communities will be powered by more options for clean energy.

This is no longer just a pipe dream but a reality, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) recently brought to life with the signature of President Joe Biden. And let’s not forget Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, whose pivotal vote helped get the measure across the goal line.

Numbers from the White House of what to expect under IRA are mind-boggling: 950 million solar panels, 120,000 wind turbines and 2,300 grid-scale battery plants.

And it won’t just be urban areas that benefit. Rural electric cooperatives serving 42 million people will be able to get cost-saving clean energy projects beyond the drawing board. In turn, climate resilience will become stronger, helping protect nearly 2 million acres of national forests.

And the topper will be millions of good-paying jobs making clean energy will be created.

Granted, there is a lot in the IRA. But what caught my eye are features that focus on clean energy. And not pricey, pie-in-the-sky ideas but those that actually have our wallets in mind. Examples include:

  • An additional 7.5 million families will be able install solar on their roofs with a 30% tax credit, leading to savings of $9,000 over the life of the system or at least $300 annually. At last, Arizona can tap into its solar potential on a grander scale.
  • Up to $7,500 in tax credits for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles.
  • Families taking advantage of clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits will save more than $1,000 annually.
  • Direct consumer rebates totaling $14,000 for families to buy heat pumps and other energy efficient home appliances that in turn can save them at least $350 per year.

Taking advantage of these measures will save families an average of $500 annually on energy costs.

The bill also includes a number of provisions that will save small business owners on energy costs. Examples include:

  • A tax credit that covers 30% of the cost of switching over to low-cost solar power. In turn, operating costs will be lowered and businesses will be protected against the volatile energy prices they may be experiencing lately.
  • A tax credit of up to $5 per square foot to support energy-efficiency improvements that result in lower utility bills.
  • Small businesses that use large vehicles like trucks and vans will benefit from tax credits covering 30% of purchase costs for clean commercial vehicles like electric and fuel cell models of trucks and vans.

And what’s clean energy without a cleaner environment as a result? Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be cut by about 1 gigaton in 2030. That will be 10 times more climate impact than any other single piece of legislation ever enacted in our nation.

Add to that clean energy and lower particle pollution from fossil fuels will help us avoid up to 3,900 premature deaths and up to 100,000 asthma attacks annually by 2030.

Saving money and saving lives. If this is what’s in store in the near term, I can’t wait to see what happens in the decades to come.

Steve Zylstra is president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council.


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