Infrastructure deal big step in clean-energy future

Guest Opinion//August 12, 2021

Infrastructure deal big step in clean-energy future

Guest Opinion//August 12, 2021

The bipartisan infrastructure bill rapidly moving through Congress is a great deal for our state and the nation. 

The bill will invest $550 billion in new money in roads, bridges, ports, passenger rail, waterways and airports. Just as importantly, it will propel Arizona and the rest of the nation toward a cleaner energy future.   

The deal will result in the federal government’s largest-ever investment in clean energy transmission and electric vehicle infrastructure. It would electrify thousands of school and transit buses across the country, in turn, reducing air pollution in our communities. It would create a new Grid Deployment Authority to build a clean, 21st century electric grid.  

The bill will not only make our state healthier and more resilient to climate change, it will also create good-paying jobs and drive economic development. Regionally, we’ve successfully modeled the impact of bipartisan investment in infrastructure, and Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly deserve a great deal of credit for pushing this forward at the federal level. This money is needed more than ever. 

Arizonans like this deal. 

Nearly 80% of Arizonans say clean energy is important to them, according to a recent poll commissioned by The Nature Conservancy and the Arizona Thrives Alliance, a statewide alliance that includes public interest advocates, solar and electric vehicle companies, utilities, city and community leaders, developers and many more.  

John Giles
John Giles

The poll found that nine of every 10 Arizonans support investing in water infrastructure to secure our water supply. Modernizing the electric grid has the same level of support. Two-thirds of Arizonans want most of the state’s energy supply to come from clean sources, and nearly as many want increased access to electric vehicles.  

This shouldn’t be particularly surprising. People choose to live in Arizona because of our state’s spectacular natural beauty, from the Sonoran Desert to the Mogollon Rim forests, from the red rocks of Sedona to the vistas of the Grand Canyon.   

The Senate deal is a big victory for Arizona. And though we’ve taken some steps forward, it reminds us that much work remains to be done.  

We’re up to it. Five years ago, Arizona was behind in pursuing a clean energy future. But today, our major power producers have set goals that would move Arizona closer to a zero-carbon future. And cities and towns are taking action on a local level, committing to doing their part to reduce environmental impacts.  

This, in turn, saves water. A study by the nonprofit business organization, Ceres, found that Arizona’s 2020 renewable energy standard saved enough water annually to serve 44,000 people.  

Also, within the past five years, the state has become a leader in electric vehicle manufacturing, with EV companies creating high-paying jobs and making massive capital investments in our state. Here in Mesa, ElectraMeccanica recently broke ground on its first U.S. manufacturing facility, and more announcements are on the way. 

The world is moving toward a cleaner energy future. Working together, Arizona can be a leader in accelerating the transition to clean energy and in increasing water security.  

Doing this will attract more high-wage jobs, protect Arizona’s natural beauty, and create a healthier, more prosperous future. 

 John Giles is mayor of Mesa.