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Goddard, Mayes, Giffords highlight facilities tapping state’s solar energy potential

Attorney General Terry Goddard goes to work every day in a building he describes as one of the most backward on the energy grid. Built in the 1950s, it has strips under the windows to provide heating, for example.

“But we do have a big flat roof,” he said.

That brought him to the Phoenix Convention Center Nov. 9 for a presentation on how more than 700 peel-and-stick solar panels on the roof provide some of the facility’s power.

Goddard met up with Kristin Mayes, chairwoman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who joined business and community leaders touring several solar projects around the Valley. The event, dubbed the Solar Bus Tour, occurred with Phoenix set to host the Greenbuild 2009 International Conference and Expo this week.

Goddard, a Democrat who last week established a committee to explore a run for governor, called solar energy a “no-brainer” for Arizona.

“I mean, we have a lot of sun,” he said. “We’ve all grown up with it and seen some of the damaging factors, and it’s about time we get some of the positive ones.”

Mayes, a Republican, said it’s important to establish policies that make it easier and more affordable for homes and businesses to tap into solar power.

“Arizonans want to see more solar,” she said. “We see more and more homeowners putting solar on their rooftops, and the demand for solar rooftops in businesses has skyrocketed almost to the point where we can’t keep up.”

Giffords said she’ll continue pursuing renewable energy legislation such as her Solar Technology Roadmap Act, which would boost research partnerships between the government and private firms. That legislation has cleared the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.

“This problem and its solution is greater than all of us,” Giffords said. “There is a lot of innovation taking place. This is the first group that is getting on the bus, and this will not be the last bus.”

Regardless of what happens at his workplace, Goddard can control what happens with his garage, which he is rebuilding at his downtown Phoenix home after a fire. Its south-facing roof has him considering solar panels, Goddard said.

“I’m very interested in what’s out on the market for my own use as well as trying to make the Attorney General’s Office more energy efficient,” he said.

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