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Leaders highlight opportunities to grow Arizona solar industry

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Alex Gonzalez

(Arizona News Connection) Tucson community leaders gathered at an event to highlight opportunities to grow Arizona's clean-energy economy say it's been made more accessible through incentives in President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Tucson City Council member Kevin Dahl predicted that clean-energy incentives will not only help lower-income households in the state consider solar but will also address a previous gap in benefits for nonprofit organizations. The IRA bill allocates $20 billion for nonprofits to implement projects that cut pollution and energy costs.

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"Even as the clean-energy industry has exploded in our state, a lot of Arizonans have been left out," he said. "New solar incentives, however - including a 30 percent tax credit off the cost of installation and another 30 percent for standalone battery installation - will be transformative."

Leaders have estimated an additional 150,000 Arizona households will install rooftop solar panels because of the investments present in the Inflation Reduction Act. 

More solar power may also be coming to rural Arizonans, with increased funding for the Rural Energy for America Program. It provides grants and loans to farms and small businesses that invest in clean-energy technology. 

Robert Neifert, director of business development for Solar Gain, Inc. and co-chair of the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association, said he's excited about what this could mean for Arizona. He said they're already seeing an uptick in business. 

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"We were looking at the tax credit going down to 22 [percent], and then down to 10 [percent], and wondering what would happen to solar, in Arizona and the country," he said. "And now, it's turned the other direction and we're more excited than ever. And having 10 years of certainty is absolutely amazing."

Neifert said what is important about the clean-energy transition is that it be accomplished affordably and executed fairly. As some members of Congress try to roll back investments in clean energy, all speakers at the event shared an urgent need to continue with what they called "bold climate action."