Arizona has a long history of innovation and entrepreneurship that has helped us grow from a Western outpost into a robust and thriving economy. While Covid has obviously had an impact, we are well-positioned for a strong recovery, in part because of the strength of Arizona’s clean energy, technology and innovation sectors. As we focus on our economic recovery efforts, it is essential that we identify and implement opportunities to support these sectors, which continue to diversify our state’s overall economy.
With that in mind, last fall The Western Way partnered with the Arizona Technology Council to convene a group of stakeholders working at the forefront of technology and innovation here. Together, the group identified key policy priorities that, if implemented, can supercharge Arizona’s economic recovery and cement our state as a national leader in clean and renewable energy technology and innovation. Our joint report released in December 2020 gives policymakers a roadmap for incorporating the technology and energy innovation sector into Arizona’s economic recovery plan. We are so pleased to see two of our recommendations mirrored in bills currently before the state Legislature.
HB2153 sponsored by Rep. Tim Dunn, R-Yuma, goes a long way toward further incentivizing the adoption of clean and renewable energy technology in Arizona by providing an exemption from state and municipal taxes for machinery and equipment used directly for energy storage. Existing state law levies a tax on tangible personal property while providing an exemption for certain categories, including the retail sale of solar energy equipment and installation of solar energy devices. Dunn’s bill adds energy storage equipment to the list of exemptions. Further development and deployment of energy storage technology — and the jobs and economic development opportunities that come with it — is a critical component of our clean and renewable energy future. If passed, HB2153 would offer an important signal that Arizona is focusing on the future.
Our report also recommended policies that support advanced manufacturing, including funding programs that enhance the talent pipeline from Arizona’s community college and state university systems into the clean energy and advanced manufacturing sectors. HB2017 sponsored by Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, provides an appropriation from the general fund to the Arizona Commerce Authority to administer a grant program intended to cultivate STEM workforce development opportunities.
Arizona’s clean energy and advanced manufacturing sectors are critical parts of our economy. They create jobs, support existing businesses and attract new ones to the state, and help ensure air quality and the environment are healthy for our communities. Investing in the advanced manufacturing and clean energy sectors by building a larger talent pipeline to support the growth of the advanced manufacturing and energy innovation sectors, as well as encourage new businesses to locate here, are essential if we are to continue to grow and innovate as a state.
As we look ahead to the future, we must find new and innovative ways to produce the energy we need to support our growing economy and the businesses and communities that call Arizona home. Fortunately, we have legislators prioritizing the clean energy, technology and innovation sectors by focusing on policy solutions that will have a real and positive impact on Arizona’s economy, both in the short-term as our economy recovers and for years into the future.
Doran Arik Miller is Arizona director of The Western Way and Steven Zylstra is president and CEO of Arizona Technology Council.