February 1st, 2012
Guest column by Diane Brossart, president of Valley Forward Association.
It’s not for lack of interest, collaborative effort or even political will that the renewable energy industry in Arizona is fledging. Regulatory uncertainties have hindered our transition to clean energy. That’s what business leaders told Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in Tempe recently as part of a roundtable discussion on how to advance the renewable energy sector in our state.
Financing, siting and transmission are also concerns but nothing matters more than the ability to sell renewable energy to California, where demand is highest. And in fact, the Secretary was meeting with Gov. Brown almost immediately following his visit to Arizona.
The promising news is that with leadership at the federal, state and local levels, we can grow the renewable energy sector and create new jobs while enhancing our environmental quality. Arizona is uniquely poised to be a leader in the transition to clean energy like wind and solar on public, private and tribal lands to benefit our state’s economy, communities and environment.
There are countless forums, programs and coalitions around building a clean energy and green technology base in Arizona, as well as many ways to engage in the issue. A Renewable Energy and Economic Summit presented by Pinal Partnership and Arizona Forward from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Tuesday, February 7, at Mission Royale Golf Club in Casa Grande will cover public policy, efficiency, untapped renewables, job creation and the future role of solar in Arizona’s economy.
Many Arizonans see the clean energy sector as our state’s greatest opportunity to restore a fledging economy and regain prosperity. The chances for progress are limited, however, without continued federal and state support. Public and private sectors must work together to identify and foster long-term policy solutions that work for all stakeholders and ensure a responsible transition to Arizona’s clean energy future.
Arizona has some of the best clean energy resources in the nation but we are behind other states in harnessing new energy development. We must maintain a reasonable level of support for solar and renewable energy technologies both through incentives and policy. We also need to spur development of a manufacturing cluster. At the national level, we need to find a way to free up capital and streamline project approval to allow installations and manufacturing to proceed unabated.
The Bureau of Land Management, which Secretary Salazar oversees, has multiple pending solar and wind projects on public lands in Arizona. Renewable energy development is also happening on tribal lands. The Interior Department has given the green light to beneficial new investments in solar and wind projects — wisely done “right from the start” and without significant environmental conflicts — on public lands in La Paz, Maricopa and Mohave counties.
Arizona has demonstrated it is ready to deploy our workforce, encourage business innovation and promote U.S. leadership in 21st century clean technologies. Working together we will find solutions that will build the clean energy economy – and jobs of tomorrow — here in the Grand Canyon State.