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My View: Investing in clean energy creates more Arizona jobs and market stability

Phoenix Business Journal

As Congress debates how to reduce our overdependence on fossil fuels, Arizona is ready for a clean-energy strategy that helps consumers struggling with spiking gas prices and brings green jobs and big savings for families.

Arizona can lead the way. Under Gov. Doug Ducey’s pro-business policies, we’ve built a strong base of electric-vehicle and lithium-ion battery manufacturing companies. Nearly 5,000 Arizona workers work at 16 separate companies making and servicing zero-emission trucks and buses. Want an electric vehicle? You can get one built here. Want to retrofit your gas-guzzler? We’re working on that, too.

The Arizona Technology Council, which has more than 750 members, is steadily adding new clean-energy technology companies to its member base. And we’re just getting started.

At a recent clean-energy business roundtable with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, we discussed how new clean-energy tax incentives and investments already passed by the House of Representatives would provide billions of dollars in funding for energy efficiency, create nearly 70,000 Arizona jobs over the next five years and contribute $4.5 billion to the state’s GDP. We need to get those federal policies across the finish line.

Clean energy can combat climate change

There is no better time than now to move forward. The war in Ukraine is a reminder of the price Americans must pay when we are held hostage to the roller coaster price of fossil fuels. Climate change is accelerating, and our state is facing threats we’ve never seen before. While heat records have already been broken right here, Arizona is not alone. Across the country, intensive heat is killing more people than all other natural disasters combined. The West, in particular, is in the midst of a decades-long drought that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight.

Climate change is also fueling wildfires that are burning down Arizona homes, destroying our timber stocks and tourist sites and threatening our property values and economic prosperity. In fact, more than one of every 11 homes and properties are now in danger.

The good news is that a clean-energy strategy is within reach.

Thanks to the efforts of Sens. Sinema and Mark Kelly and other members of Arizona’s congressional delegation, Congress took an important first step last fall, passing bipartisan investments in electric vehicles and other climate-related measures that will make our air cleaner and create high-paying jobs.

Approximately $11.3 million of the investments included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will build new electric-vehicle charging stations across the state, speeding up the growth of a sector that has already put more than 28,000 clean electric vehicles on the Arizona roads and created nearly 3,200 in-state jobs.

The right next steps can make Arizona a national leader in green technology and create good jobs here for generations to come.

Incentives, investments will speed transition

Creating these jobs will require a variety of strategies, including clean-energy tax credits for electric transmission, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, and production of clean fuels like hydrogen. These incentives and investments will build made-in-America, clean-energy manufacturing and supply chains.

In our neighborhoods, support for solar and energy-efficiency investments will bring clean energy to our homes and create new jobs. Speeding the transition toward clean energy can save Arizona consumers more than $449 million each year for the next decade. With reduced driving costs and utility bills, families could see up to $500 a year in savings.

Dedicated funding for high-speed rail across the West will help our cities keep growing. Our rural areas need support to transition electric cooperatives away from fossil fuels, along with climate-smart agriculture and forestry investments to boost development and build resilience.

By helping transition to a clean-energy future, smart steps like these can help homeowners save real money, get us off the roller coaster of fossil fuel prices and create green jobs here at home. We’re ready. So, let’s end the Senate gridlock and open the benefits of the clean energy economy to all Arizonans.

Steve Zylstra is president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. Lindsay Gorrill is the co-founder and CEO of KORE Power.


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