Tucson Council Member Kevin Dahl, Solar Business and Nonprofit Community Leaders Highlight Tremendous Opportunity to Grow Arizona’s Solar Industry
Leaders Highlight How Arizona Solar Businesses, Nonprofits, and Consumers Can Benefit from the Inflation Reduction Act & Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
(TUCSON, AZ) – Today, Tucson Council Member Kevin Dahl joined Frank Velásquez Jr., Board President of The Drawing Studio, Inc.; Tamora Muir, Tucson Resident and Rooftop Solar Homeowner; Adrian Keller, Arizona Program Director, Solar United Neighbors of Arizona; Robert Neifert, Director of Business Development, Solar Gain Inc. and Co-Chair of the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association’s (AriSEIA) Public Policy Committee to highlight the incredible opportunities to grow Arizona’s clean energy economy, made possible by the solar grants and incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Speakers shared how these investments will cut energy costs for Arizona families, create clean energy jobs, and help grow Arizona’s clean energy economy.
Southern Arizona residents and businesses will benefit from any number of investments outlined in the IRA. These new incentives will help families switch to cheaper, cleaner electricity by offering tax credits cutting 30% off the cost of rooftop solar. Experts estimate that an additional 150,000 Arizona households will install rooftop solar panels specifically because of the investments in the IRA. The IIJA and IRA will also allow for greater adoption of solar by nonprofit organizations, as well as rural and economically disadvantaged populations.
“Even as the clean energy industry has exploded in our state, a lot of Arizonans have been left out,” said Tucson City Council Member Kevin Dahl of Ward 3. “But new solar incentives include a 30% tax credit off the cost of installation, and another 30% for stand-alone battery installation. This will be transformative for all Tucson homeowners and nonprofits, especially those previously priced out.”
In addition to low-income households, the new incentives also address a previous gap in benefits for nonprofits. The IRA bill includes $20 billion allocated for nonprofit organizations to implement projects that cut pollution and energy costs. The bill also includes $7 billion for tribes, municipalities and nonprofits to install rooftop or community solar energy in disadvantaged communities.
“The Drawing Studio is a great example of how nonprofits can better help our communities thanks to clean energy investments,” said Frank Velásquez Jr., Board President of The Drawing Studio Inc. and Founder of 4 Da Hood. “The direct pay assistance will allow us to go solar, and lower energy costs mean more resources dedicated to our programming that lift up Arizonans.”
The IRA also increases funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which provides grants and loans to farms and small businesses in rural America that invest in clean energy technologies like solar.
“SUN has already helped thousands of Arizonans save money on their electric bills thanks to solar co-ops, and we’re very excited that the IRA incentives will allow us to expand our reach to both urban and rural communities,” said Adrian Keller, Arizona Program Director, Solar United Neighbors of Arizona.
“Solar Gain is excited for these IRA investments and expects the solar industry to grow following its passage. Having federal, state, and local solar rules change every year or two has presented challenges in the past. The 10-year IRA horizon dramatically improves our business planning and growth outlook, “ said Robert Neifert, Director of Business Development, Solar Gain Inc. and Co-Chair of the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association’s (AriSEIA) Public Policy Committee. “The most important changes are the tax credit reverting to 30%, and the incentive adders - Domestic Content, Low Income, and Energy Communities. For the Low Income Adder and Energy Communities, new guidance just came out in the last few weeks, but it seems many Tucson and surrounding area projects will benefit from the new bonus incentives.”
AriSEIA is helping Arizonans go solar by helping improve the state, local, and utility policies. We’ve been able to score big wins with Arizona Public Service, Tucson Electric Power, Salt River Project, and the Arizona Corporation Commission, as well as meeting with co-ops and local governments to remove roadblocks and bring the latest technology advancements to Arizona.
With some members of Congress seeking to undermine these critical investments, speakers all shared the urgent need for continued bold climate action. The event concluded with speakers urging the Biden administration to finish the job on climate and implement solutions for pollution to help slash climate pollution in half by 2030.
Watch a recording of the event HERE.
Investing in infrastructure is an opportunity to imagine and build a better future for everyone. The influx of federal dollars from the recently-adopted Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-generation chance to imagine what a better future for Arizona looks like and then to make it real.
New federal funds have enormous potential to save residents and businesses money on energy and transportation, create new jobs, and expand prosperity – while also improving our health and protecting our climate. However, how local governments choose to implement new policies will have a large effect on their overall impact. We, a coalition of 14 clean energy, energy efficiency, community health, and environmental justice groups, write to ask you to maximize the benefits of this unprecedented opportunity and to steer our region toward a better future.
Specifically, we urge you to identify, direct federal funding towards, and maximize public participation in projects and programs that will:
Opportunities to deliver these kinds of benefits to the region and state are plentiful within the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. For example, states and local governments can:
Successfully implementing the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will require coordination and cooperation across all levels of government. Our organizations stand ready to assist with the task at hand. We look forward to meeting with you and your staff to help identify opportunities to increase benefits, connect your staff with grant-writing assistance, support your funding applications, or discuss your investment or synergistic policy plans. Additionally, please take a look at the resources and assistance available through the Local Infrastructure Hub, including a grant application bootcamp for small- to medium-sized cities. (localinfrastructure.org)
We look forward to working with you to maximize the benefits of this unprecedented investment in the future of our region.
For Immediate Release: August 12, 2022
Arizona’s solar community applauds passage of Inflation Reduction Act
Phoenix, AZ – Arizona’s solar community, including the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA), Solar United Neighbors Action, and Vote Solar, celebrated the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday. Among many provisions, the landmark legislation will extend and expand tax credits over the next decade for homeowners and businesses installing solar panels, as well as large-scale clean energy development. The bill earned support from a majority of Arizona’s Congressional Delegation, including Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, and Representatives Gallego, Grijalva, Kirkpatrick, O’Halleran, and Stanton. It now goes to President Biden for his signature.
“The Inflation Reduction Act is a huge win for anyone that wants to use solar power in Arizona,” said Bret Fanshaw, Arizona Program Director with Solar United Neighbors Action. “By making solar more affordable for Arizona families, households will directly reap the benefits with lower electric bills for decades to come. We applaud Arizona’s leaders who supported the bill, especially Senators Sinema and Kelly.”
The legislation increases the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit for residential solar installations from 26% to 30%, beginning this year and extending through 2032. This will lower the cost of an average home solar installation in Arizona by around $6,000. It also makes battery storage technology eligible for tax credits as a standalone resource.
“More solar and storage investment in Arizona will mean tens of thousands more jobs in the renewable energy sector,” said Autumn Johnson, Executive Director with AriSEIA. “With the passage of this bill, Arizona is poised to use our ideal climate and existing solar industry to continue to lead the country on the deployment of solar power.”
In addition to expanding and extending residential tax credits, the bill also provides direct cash payments to tax-exempt organizations installing solar. Traditionally, tax-exempt entities like nonprofits, schools and local governments have not had direct access to federal solar incentives. Rural small businesses and agricultural producers installing solar will also benefit from an expansion of the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP provides grants that can cover up to half the cost of an eligible rural solar project. The Inflation Reduction Act also includes a $7 billion EPA grant program to enable deployment of zero-emission technologies in lower-income and environmental justice communities.
“We are energized by the solar components within the Inflation Reduction Act. The direct pay and REAP provisions help to reduce barriers to solar for communities and marginalized groups,” said Yara Marin, Regional Director for the Interior West at Vote Solar. “However, we recognize that this bill does not remove every barrier to solar access. Vote Solar will continue to work at the state level to ensure solar for all.”
At the same time the bill is poised to make transformational investments in solar and other clean energy resources, it also has significant shortcomings, such as potential for new fossil fuel development which has an outsized negative impact on historically marginalized communities. Advocates recognized the need for federal, state, and local government agencies to ensure the bill delivers meaningful results to all Arizonans. As the sunniest state in the country and a burgeoning hub for clean energy technologies from solar panels to battery storage and electric vehicles, Arizona is poised to reap the benefits of this historic $370 billion investment in clean energy and a healthy climate.
Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA) is a 501(c)(6) trade organization and the state chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). AriSEIA works to develop and support policies that create opportunities to advance Arizona’s economy through solar energy and storage. We advocate for sustainable job creation and encourage utilization of Arizona’s greatest natural resource, the sun.
Solar United Neighbors Action is a national 501(c)4 nonprofit. SUN Action represents solar homeowners and everyone who wants to benefit from solar energy. We are fighting for a clean, resilient, and equitable energy system. We do this by putting rooftop solar at the cornerstone. Our grassroots network of solar supporters communicates with lawmakers to implement the policies that will make this vision a reality.
Vote Solar is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Vote Solar advocates for state policies and programs needed to repower our electric grid with clean energy. Vote Solar works to remove regulatory barriers and implement key policies needed to bring solar to scale. Vote Solar works to realize a 100% clean energy future through a solutions-driven, people-first approach.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema
333 E. Camelback Road, Suite 200
Phoenix, AZ 85018
RE: Support for the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022
Dear Senator Sinema,
The Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association’s (AriSEIA) mission is to develop and support policies that create opportunities to advance Arizona’s economy through solar energy and storage. AriSEIA advocates for sustainable job creation in deployment of solar and complementary technologies and collaborates with stakeholders to encourage utilization of Arizona’s greatest natural resource: the sun.
We write to encourage you to vote “yes” on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This legislation will provide much needed funding and incentives to advance our transition to a clean energy economy. Renewables are a critical component in that energy transition. In addition to supporting a robust solar supply chain, the IRA will bring new jobs to Arizona, as well as the potential for significant dollars of additional economic development and investment in our state. Princeton’s REPEAT Project estimates that the IRA will create 65,000 new jobs in Arizona in the renewables sector by 2035. It will also save Arizona consumers approximately $360 per household on energy expenses by 2030.
AriSEIA represents approximately sixty companies already doing business in Arizona that are ready and willing to ramp up their operations and increase their investment. Solar already provides more than 8,000 jobs in Arizona and we look forward to that continuing to grow. Our members engage in every aspect of the solar supply chain, and they are eager to get to work doing even more to promote our economy, our environment, and our residents with the passage of this historic legislation. Additional renewables deployment also means Arizona’s electric system will use less water, which is critical as we face unprecedented water shortages, because solar uses considerably less water than thermal electricity generation.
Voting “yes” on the IRA is a vote for the clean energy transition and the companies and workers in Arizona that make it happen. Please support the Inflation Reduction Act.
/s/ Autumn T. Johnson
June 7, 2022
The Honorable Mark Kelly
516 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Kelly,
Last year, we wrote seeking your support for a robust energy tax package that would help the solar industry meet our nation’s climate goals. Now, as the Senate gets closer to considering reconciliation legislation, we are asking for your active support in getting this measure over the finish line. To create jobs and economic prosperity for millions of Americans, we ask for your strong support for passage of the reconciliation energy tax package that will spur solar and clean energy in Arizona, including a 10-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC). Extending the ITC and adding the option to utilize the credit directly is critical to Arizona’s solar development.
Arizona is an incredible solar state, ranking fifth nationwide in overall solar installed, and second in solar energy potential. This has resulted in tremendous economic growth and future potential for Arizona businesses. Hard work, small business ingenuity, and an abundance of sun has made Arizona home to more than 300 companies and more than 7,300 jobs working to advance solar innovation and energy freedom. There are multitudes of young people who are looking to enter careers in solar, thanks in large part to the excellent programs at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. These jobs range across multiple fields, including design, development, construction, and operations & maintenance. The jobs created by this growing industry span the range of professional opportunities, from immediately available jobs that require no advanced education to those that utilize a PhD.
A wide range of non-solar businesses in Arizona are also benefitting from the clean energy economy. In towns, communities, and urban areas, solar is driving down company costs and saving businesses money. In rural areas, ranchers are utilizing solar to save on electricity costs, diversifying farm income and assisting with irrigation. And for families across the state, solar helps save money on home energy bills. Solar contributes not just to national energy independence – it helps small businesses and families with financial independence and stability.
Despite tremendous progress in states like Arizona, the United States is falling behind on efforts to meet critical climate goals. Arizonans can benefit from continued investments in the state’s solar energy economy, contributing towards meeting our nation’s climate goals while providing local jobs and reliable economic growth for our state. We strongly urge you to work towards the passage of a robust climate reconciliation package that includes a long-term extension of the solar ITC along with direct pay, to allow businesses to plan for a much larger clean energy buildout than is possible under current policy. We also ask for your continued support of a standalone energy storage credit to help the U.S. meet our energy needs and enhance the resilience of our electricity supply. Additionally, the manufacturing provisions in the legislation ensure that there will be a boom in domestic solar manufacturing.
We understand that as the Senate considers a reconciliation package, officials will weigh budgetary issues. The investment tax credit is fiscally prudent and contributes to rapid and needed economic growth. Not only does the ITC save money for families, businesses, and schools, it is an anchor that leverages further critical private sector investment.
We appreciate your support and look forward to hearing from you.
Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA)
*More than 80 cosigners
**Identical letter sent to Senator Sinema
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