The economic development power of clean energy in Arizona

Can clean energy be a contributor to benefit economic growth? In our recent webinar LightWorks poses this important question to local community and utility leaders and learned of two main factors that contribute to desirable economic growth:
1. They create more jobs per-dollar invested than traditional technologies and
2. They primarily use local resources; most of the energy dollars circulate in the local economy

Clean energy makes economic sense to both communities and businesses. Not only are they cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels but these technologies are also not subject to global price changes that can create volatile energy prices

This topic sparked some interesting thoughts, collectively discussed with a talented panel consisting of Kelly Barr, Chief Strategy, Corporate Services & Sustainability Executive, Salt River Project; Mayor Kate Gallego, Mayor, Phoenix, AZ and Chris Camacho, President & CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Kelly spoke about the utility perspective of the renewable energy market while Chris pointed out the regional perspective and Mayor Gallego, the city perspective.

The Salt River Project has pledged to achieve two main goals – carbon reduction and electrification. SRP, according to Kelly, is very aware of the need for green energy’s growing call and is partnering with companies with the same clean energy policies to make it affordable and renewable, thereby helping SRP meet sustainability goals and helping their customers reach their energy emission goals. SRP has set a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 65% by 2035 and down to 90% by 2050. There has been significant progress in partnering with companies and SRP to create charging station networks around libraries, parks and universities within Phoenix. A good charging network is key to on-boarding customers who may be concerned about the vehicle range.

Mayor Gallego noted that Phoenix is the 5th largest and fastest growing city in the US and has been experiencing harsh heat and record breaking temperatures of above 100 degree Fahrenheit over days – See report here. She indicated that this makes it all the more important for Phoenix to encourage investment in innovative technologies on heat resilience. According to Mayor Gallego, Phoenix will continue to innovate examples like solar installation on public housing. Mayor Gallego is optimistic on green financing to build opportunities for universities, investors and individuals to make additional clean energy investments and reduce carbon emissions.

Clean energy is significant for job growth in the Phoenix area according to Chris Comacho. He also. Noted that every business development deal he is working with have an appetite to include clean energy in their milestones. Chris also noted that Arizona utilities have an opportunity to use low cost solar and make the power reliable energy for customers. This creates great opertunity for collaboration.

Surabhi Vinodkeerthi,

ASU master’s student & media lead with ASU LightWorks