The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically altered our economic landscape both nationally and here in Arizona. Climbing back onto the state’s perch as one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing economies in the country is going to take hard work and innovation.
Fortunately, what remains constant is our foundation as a technology and innovation hub. This is especially true in our renewable energy sector.
Renewable energy is a powerful solution to restoring economic security at a time when residents need it most. That is why Arizona must get on a fast track toward modernizing our energy rules.
In a move toward this goal, the Arizona Technology Council has called upon the Arizona Corporation Commission to increase the state’s Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) to at least 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% carbon-free by 2050. At press time, a public hearing on the matter was scheduled for Sept. 24 in Tucson.
Technology plays a huge part in this endeavor. Arizona’s innovation ecosystem is making electric and autonomous vehicles, testing zero-emission semi-trucks, building the solar grid, installing energy-efficient devices, flying electric airplanes, and making global advancements in water technology, just to mention a few examples of the clean-energy space.
In March, the business nonprofit entity Ceres published a report that for the first time measured the impact of Arizona’s renewable energy standard since it was established in 2006. The report found REST has provided significant economic and environmental benefits, including scaling investments and driving down energy costs through technology. Solar industry investments alone were pegged at almost $12 billion, which has stimulated job growth and market development.
The time to invest in renewables is now, especially when our economy needs solutions so badly. Clean energy helps businesses save money, hedge against volatile fuel prices and stay competitive. In fact, a 2017 analysis issued by Ceres and other groups showed clean energy saved 190 companies nearly $3.7 billion in 2016 alone, freeing up significant capital that could be reinvested into our businesses, students, employees and local communities.
It’s important to know that even Arizona Public Service, our state’s largest utility, already took a major step forward in putting forth a goal to reduce carbon emissions, committing to 45% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% clean energy by 2050. Raising REST to reflect these more ambitious energy rules would ensure APS’ goals become reality. It also would send a clear signal to the market and give certainty to utilities and customers in the state.
Renewable energy is the answer to moving toward a cleaner, more prosperous and healthy future.