Solar Power World wants to thank our friends at Vote Solar for allowing us to help get the word out about what’s going on about the solar industry in the states. Our first installment focuses on what’s going on in Arizona, authored by Vote Solar’s Annie Lappe.
By Annie Lappe
Arizona is a rising star in the race among states for solar leadership; it’s now third in the country for solar jobs, according to The Solar Foundation’s 2011 Jobs Census (behind California and Colorado). However, given Arizona’s abundant sunshine and burgeoning solar manufacturing industry, the state has made good on only a small sliver of its solar potential. As of August 2012, Arizona had installed 448 MW of solar capacity- enough to power 57,491 homes. The state ranks 3rd in the U.S., right behind California and New Jersey, in terms of solar installed. You can learn more about Arizona’s solar profile at SEIA’s Arizona resource page.
On the small-scale solar front, solar incentives are dropping quickly in 2012 as demand for solar soars. We are working with partners int he state to prepare for a “post-incentives” framework in Arizona. That means we will be focusing on the nitty gritty details of solar rate design, to ensure that the small scale solar market continues to grow apace.
On the large-scale solar front, we are working to site solar projects efficiently and responsibly. The Arizona Bureau of Land Management has released a first-of-its-kind proposal to map the best areas for renewable energy development throughout the state, and to streamline permitting in those areas on BLM lands. In February 2012, Arizona BLM released a draft EIS on its Restoration Design Energy Project website. In May, Vote Solar submitted comments to the BLM in partnership with Arizona utilities, land conservation groups and the solar industry, including detailed suggestions for how to make RDEP most effective at choosing the best BLM lands for solar, and how to make the program a model for other states in the future.
On October 31, 2006, the Arizona Corporation Commission voted 4-1 to expand the state’s renewable portfolio standard to require 15% renewable energy, and 30% of that to come from distributed generation resources. (In 2012, the renewables goal is 3.5% of retail load.) We think much of the renewable energy standard will be met with solar. With a world-class solar resource and strong population growth, Arizona has the potential to emerge as a key solar market. Here’s a factsheet on impacts (pdf). If you want the details on the renewable energy standard, here’s the Final Rule (pdf, 186 pages).
Arizona currently has no cap on the total amount of solar that can be net metered. Individual net metered systems are not allowed to exceed 125% of the customer’s total connected load.
Policy Needs and Next Steps
Utility implementation of the RES will be on ongoing issue, as will defending the standard from attacks by opponents of clean energy in the State Legislature. Long-term, Arizona must keep increasing in-state demand for clean energy in order to compete with other western states for solar jobs. Streamlining permitting on federal and private lands will also continue to be a priority.
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Vote Solar’s lead for Arizona is Annie Lappé. She can be reached at email@example.com .