In The News; Arizona: The Economic Development Power of Clean Energy

Recently published by GreenLiving, ASU LightWorks' Bill Brandt explores the intersection of economic development and clean energy.

Image credit: Sonoran Institute

Arizona is well-positioned for zero-carbon clean energy with more solar. The installation pace needs to be accelerated to meet corporate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) objectives according to Chris Comacho, president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Innovation to provide reliable power is needed.

In a recent ASU LightWorks webinar panel on the development power of clean energy in Arizona, Comacho, City of Phoenix Mayor, Kate Gallego and Chief Strategy, Corporate Services and Sustainability Executive, Salt River Project Kelly Barr spoke on the topic.

Mayor Kate Gallego forecasted that the interest in solar will lead to twice as many permits for solar issued by the City of Phoenix. Currently, there are 7000 jobs in solar in Phoenix and she expects this to increase as more solar is installed.

Barr pointed out that the Salt River Project will double its solar commitment – 2025 MW by 2025. What they are saying is the transition to new energy is important and as a customer, you can participate in buying solar from SRP’s solar program.

Insights on zero-carbon energy and investors

Image credit: City of Phoenix

The City of Phoenix will be leading decarbonization efforts with its own electric vehicle (EV) fleet. The Salt River Project is forecasting a significant increase in EVs over the next decade with 500,000 vehicles by 2035 in its service territory. Phoenix is also becoming a hub for EV companies

Recently the city of Phoenix sold green bonds with a 4X oversubscription rate, indicating that investors are eager to make money and support sustainability with a strong business case. Mayor Gallego is enthusiastic about more opportunities as the city continues to take a leadership role in investment in infrastructure – digital (broadband) and sustainability (energy). Comacho added that new investments in infrastructure are expected to create more equitable economic growth – an important theme for companies and communities in the valley.

Comacho is equally enthusiastic about federal legislation providing new funding for infrastructure, including EVs. Phoenix is the fastest growing market in the US, and the conversation today with companies is more about how companies manage their carbon footprint and how they will meet their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments.

Why It Matters:

- 250 companies around the world are looking at Phoenix. Clean energy, digital and EVs are important factors in their investment decisions and their ESG goals.

- The major new investments in semiconductors in the valley with Intel and TMSC are just the beginning for Phoenix as a chip and innovation hub.

The demand for clean energy is pushing the grid operators to think differently – make the grid reliable, affordable, and clean. This is also creating new collaborations between the utilities and industry.

Image credit: US Department of Energy

We need to build out our innovation hubs and networks in Phoenix – it is not just about bringing in the next company. Clean reliable energy is key.

- Solar has wide political support in Arizona and zero-carbon energy is a high priority for companies and their supply chains.

- New technology for backup power will be an important part of the new grid – reliable, affordable, and clean electricity.

- Innovation will be the key to helping small and large businesses benefit from new technologies.