It’s about jobs | Viewpoint: Senator Jay Tibshraeny


The Solana-APS/Abengoa solar plant (artist rendering)

Attracting quality employers to Arizona should be one of our highest priorities, especially in these trying economic times. With a ready-made market created by the 300 days of sunshine each year, the solar industry would be a natural fit for us.

Sen. Tibshraeny

Sen. Tibshraeny

There are two areas of solar technology – generation and manufacturing. Several growing solar generation companies are looking at Arizona for potential investment. The Solana-APS/Abengoa plant, a projected thermal power facility near Gila Bend, is just one example of what can be done with the natural resources of this state. The Solana plant would create 1,500 jobs and generate an estimated $4 billion over the next 30 years.

Arizona is also vying with several other states to attract solar manufacturing employers. We have missed numerous opportunities to land these businesses here because of our inability to compete with other states such as Oregon, New Mexico and Texas. These projects had the potential to provide thousands of high-quality jobs for Arizona residents and help diversify our economy while making Arizona a leader in the solar industry.

Arizona is already highly competitive in the semiconductor market, and the skills its work force possesses are transferable to the solar industry.

If we learn anything from this downturn, it should be that our economy has been overly reliant on the construction industry, especially residential construction, for far too long. It is time to heed the advice economic development experts have been giving us for years. We must diversify our economy. In addition to our semiconductor businesses, we need to attract employers in the bio-industry, aerospace, telecommunications, advanced business, and sustainable technologies sectors. In the area of sustainable technologies, solar seems particularly suited to this state.

The solar industry is one of the few business sectors still experiencing growth in today’s difficult economic climate.

It is projected that U.S. solar-related investments will increase by $232 billion and will provide approximately 276,000 jobs nationwide by 2016.

Arizona is already highly competitive in the semiconductor market, and the skills its work force possesses are transferable to the solar industry.

It is not too late to change the course of our future. We need to foster an economic climate and tax structure that will lead to job growth in this industry. One proposal being considered in the state Senate, SB1403, is one way we can advance Arizona’s competitiveness. This bill would create a state income tax credit for renewable energy companies that invest in land, facilities, equipment and high-wage job creation.

The Senate Government Institutions Committee, which I chair, recently had a presentation on the solar industry. Members and the public received an overview of current market activity and heard about the potential of these new technological and business opportunities for job growth.

My goal was to educate my colleagues and provide valuable up-to-date information to those who are interested in the development of this industry in Arizona.

As state policymakers, we must address the issue of our competitiveness in attracting new technologies and taking the steps necessary to bring these businesses into our communities. By doing so we can enhance our economic growth and provide stability for our future. Enacting SB1403 will help meet these goals.


Arizona State Senator Jay Tibshraeny (R) lives in Chandler, AZ. His Viewpoint first ran in the East Valley Tribune. It is used here with his permission.

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