California Governor Jerry Brown, in his State of the State, showed some strong support for solar power and an ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Naturally, this earned the praise of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today.
Meanwhile, however, solar-blessed Arizona took a big step backwards when it comes to solar power, drawing some strong criticism.
“By restating his strong support for a 33 percent RPS target, Governor Brown continues California’s efforts to grow its robust, sustainable clean tech economy, provide additional certainty to solar developers, attract new private investment, add thousands of new jobs, improve reliability of the electric grid, and reduce air pollution,” SEIA states. “With this stepped-up commitment, additional solar firms throughout California will be in a position to further their growth. Fast-growing solar companies throughout the state have greatly expanded their presence since 2001.”
“With this ambitious renewable portfolio standard, California is setting an example for the entire nation – while realizing the benefits of an expanded clean energy economy,” said Carrie Cullen Hitt, senior vice president for state affairs at SEIA. “We applaud Governor Brown for advancing policies that promote clean energy innovation, create jobs, protect the environment, and help ensure our nation’s energy security and independence. This RPS target demonstrates California’s standing as our nation’s leader in solar deployment. The state’s forward-thinking energy policies ensure that solar continues to be an increasingly significant component in the state’s – and our nations’ – energy portfolio, one that helps contain electricity costs for families and businesses.”
California is a clear solar power leader. It’s nice to see such a large and influential state lead the way on this matter.
Arizona… Not Cool
While California is still a glowing state of support for solar power, very sunny Arizona has fallen of the wagon.
The Arizona Corporate Commission (ACC) has just voted to eliminate all incentives for competitive commercial solar systems. Here’s SEIA’s response:
“SEIA is disappointed to learn of the Arizona Corporation Commission’s decision to eliminate policies critical to future commercial solar energy investment. While the ACC maintained funding for utility-owned projects it eliminated those for privately-developed commercial systems. The latter is a step backwards for Arizona’s longstanding commitment to economic development, free markets and expansion of clean energy resources. This is particularly troubling at a time when Arizona faces challenges including water usage and shuttering of coal facilities. It is our expectation that this Commission will, despite this aberration, continue to support a diversified solar market in the future.
“Arizona businesses will continue paying monthly Renewable Energy Standard Tariff (REST) surcharges, but they will have no longer have the opportunity to use these funds to eliminate or reduce their electricity bill by installing solar themselves.
“While today’s decisions come as a surprise to SEIA, we remain committed to participating in a transparent decision-making process with the ACC that maintains free market choices for Arizona businesses and consumers.”
Of course, solar power is growing fast in the US — faster than any other power source. “Since 2008, the amount of solar powering U.S. homes, businesses, and military bases has grown by more than 500 percent – from 1,100 megawatts to more than 6,400 megawatts today, which is enough to power more than one million average American households. Solar is the fastest-growing and most affordable, accessible and reliable clean energy technology available today. America’s solar industry now employs more than 119,000 workers at 5,600 companies – most of which are small businesses spread across every state in the union.”
The 6,400 MW figure is actually from the end of Q3 2012. According to SEIA and GTM Research’s projections, Q4 was going to be the biggest quarter in the history of US solar, by far. The projection was that it would add about 1,200 MW.
Arizona is currently ranked #3 for total installed solar capacity. As a result, it has nearly 10,000 solar employees working at over 270 companies. It would be a shame if it went backwards in this fast-growing industry and lost jobs and economic growth to other states.