Arizona needs new, innovative ways to produce energy


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.  

Doran Arik Miller
Doran Arik Miller

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.  

Steve Zylstra
Steve Zylstra

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 

Clean energy investment, economic development go hand-in-hand


For years, there has been a running narrative that conservatives are not committed to addressing our real and pressing climate challenges. 

That is, in part, because the conversation has been dominated by those on the far left who advocate for extreme environmental policies that fail to account for the harsh economic consequences that would inevitably result.

What we have heard less frequently are the conversations about environmental solutions that both drive clean energy innovation and support economic development.

But those conversations are happening every day here in Arizona, and those solutions are supported by a wide swath of Arizona voters, including conservatives.

Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a conservative organization advancing clean energy policies, and The Western Way, a free-market conservation organization, recently released the results of a poll showing that a majority of Republican voters in Arizona believe climate change is a serious problem and strongly favor investment in the renewable energy sector.

Doran Arik Miller
Doran Arik Miller

Fully two-thirds of conservative voters in Arizona support accelerating the growth of clean energy in the United States, helping us become a world leader in green economic development. This growth has already begun in Arizona, where individuals and businesses large and small are demanding clean energy sources, our largest utility companies are making robust strides in clean energy production, and innovative companies developing clean energy solutions, like Nikola Corporation and Lucid Motors, are locating their headquarters here.

What’s more, support for clean energy spans age demographics, with both older and younger conservative voters in agreement about the importance of implementing clean energy policies. For example, older and younger conservative voters are in strong agreement about the importance of domestic energy production, energy independence, and cleaner sources of energy production: 100% of voters aged 18 to 29; 82% of voters aged 30 to 44; and 77% of voters aged 45 and above believe support for clean energy production is important when deciding on a candidate. Similarly, more than 70% of voters aged 18 to 44 support proposals to make the country’s economy carbon neutral by 2050; 60% of voters aged 45 to 54 agree.

And, Arizonans understand how to get us there. Unsurprisingly, Arizona voters strongly favor government incentives over government mandates — more than 70% of conservative voters in Arizona support incentives to drive clean energy production and adoption, as well as tax reform and streamlined permitting processes to encourage businesses and organizations to begin a shift to more sustainable energy options. These could include financial incentives to reduce the cost of energy efficiency improvements, and tax credits and matching rates for construction, which, in conjunction with permitting reforms, can significantly enhance the feasibility and appeal of developing clean energy projects.

Arizonans also understand the connection between investment in renewable energy infrastructure and economic development, and that increasing the number of rural renewable energy facilities in rural regions will help our local rural economies.

As COVID-19 continues to wreak economic havoc across the country, elected officials and policymakers are understandably focused on managing the present crisis. But they also recognize that we need to look to the future, and clean energy investment should be part of our effort to rebuild our post-COVID economy. As polling shows, Arizona voters agree:  When The Western Way surveyed conservative Arizona voters, respondents made it clear that they want to see elected leaders support policies that encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy in Arizona, and support research and development for new innovation in energy production, including things like nuclear, renewables, and battery storage.

When we talk about clean and renewable energy, it is important to recognize that clean energy investment and economic development are not mutually exclusive — in fact, to the contrary, the two go hand-in-hand. Conservative voters in Arizona place a high value on policies that benefit the economy and create jobs, but they also believe in the importance of protecting our natural environment and quality of life. That is why they overwhelmingly support accelerating the growth of the clean energy sector. Western states’ policymakers have long understood this balance, and these latest polls make clear that conservative Arizonans are looking for elected leaders to deliver commonsense solutions to address our pressing environmental challenges.

Doran Arik Miller is state director for The Western Way.

Let’s harness the power of free-markets to find conservation, environmental solutions


I am the elected State Senator for Legislative District 1, and a Prescott resident since the age of four. People often mistake Arizona as a sandy desert, however, those of us who reside here know the beauty in its vast valleys, forests, and endless mountain ranges. There is a growing narrative that conservatives do not care about protecting our environment, which is why I, along with other conservative leaders, support the Arizona chapter of The Western Way

Senate President Karen Fann (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
Senate President Karen Fann (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

(TWW) organization. While TWW is a multi-state organization, focused on economical environmental solutions to conservation issues, the organization recognizes each state’s individual environmental problems and allows the respective chapters to address their unique challenges with long-term solutions.

Arizona’s conservation and environmental challenges must be a priority for not only individuals, diverse communities, and state government, but also for businesses across the state, as it has a direct impact on our daily lives. Recent polling by The Western Way shows that an overwhelming number of consumers want a larger emphasis on renewable resources and energy efficiency measures. Conservative Arizona voters responded with 80 percent favoring of placing prominence on producing energy from solar power and 84 percent of increase energy efficiency measures. Therefore, the Arizona chapter of TWW, supports companies whom are responding to consumer demand, one of which is Salt River Project (SRP).

SRP, without a government mandate, is forging a new path for Arizona through a comprehensive set of sustainability goals addressing business activities in five priority areas: carbon emission reductions, water resiliency, supply chain and waste reduction, grid modernization, and civic engagement. It is my belief that honest, principled leadership will allow us to provide pragmatic solutions to our environmental issues, and SRP follows this belief through their implementation of a 2035 governance structure that includes an incorporated financial plan, steps to ensure public transparency, and a data governance structure. The company’s 2035 sustainability goals of adding significant amounts of utility scale solar, pursuing battery storage, partnering with large private sector energy users, and prioritizing energy and water savings through energy efficiency measures has pushed SRP to add 1,000 megawatts of new utility-scale solar energy by 2025, execute its first standalone battery-based energy storage project with The AES Corporation, and partner with Intel to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the Intel Chandler facility.

Having continued collaboration from mission-driven organizations and companies like The Western Way and SRP create win-win economic and ecological solutions for our state. Within TWW, we focus on the real time data and facts, something I strongly believe in as we cannot be effective in fostering real solutions without acknowledging established scientific evidence and the current state of our resources. It is understood that mandates and big-government solutions originating in Washington, D.C. may not work for our western state, and therefore, we challenge ourselves, and those around us, to harness the power of free-markets to find long-term solutions. As the newly elected Arizona Senate President, it is my duty to work across party-lines and make responsible legislative decisions addressing our great state’s environmental needs.

Senate President Karen Fann represents Legislative District 1 and has served in the Legislature since 2011.

Regulators should be commended for moving on energy policy issues

Solar panels and wind turbine against blue sky

Polling clearly shows that Arizonans, like other Western voters, want their elected officials to engage on energy and environmental issues in constructive and meaningful ways.

Western states policymakers, in turn, are increasingly leading on environmental issues by driving policies that support clean energy innovation and market-based solutions to environmental challenges.

The recent vote by the Arizona Corporation Commission to adopt higher energy efficiency standards is exactly the kind of pragmatic and market-oriented approach that Arizonans want to see.

Recent polling conducted by the Conservative Energy Network found that Arizonans across the political spectrum favor market-oriented policies to address pressing energy needs and environmental concerns.

Overall, 87% of likely Arizona voters believe that government should play a role to accelerate the development and use of clean energy, and 65% preferred a market approach to expanding clean energy production.

Doran Arik Miller
Doran Arik Miller

Arizonans also favor policies that encourage energy efficiency. An early August poll conducted by The Western Way found that 85% of conservative Arizona voters would tell a candidate for office to support policies that encourage energy efficiency. Given Arizonans’ preference for a market-oriented approach, their general support for energy efficiency policies makes sense. With benefits to residential, commercial, and industrial users in the form of lower utility bills, energy efficiency measures are widely popular.

Energy efficiency, at its most basic level, is just using less energy to get the same job completed, and it is generally regarded as the cheapest way to avoid higher rates for energy by using existing generation more efficiently with less waste. Arizona’s utilities already offer a range of programs to meet Arizona’s existing energy efficiency standard by incentivizing demand-side adoption of energy efficiency measures, including residential rebates for smart thermostats, energy efficient pool equipment, lighting and home improvements, and commercial programs dealing with demand response and incentives on efficient upgrades.

The new energy efficiency standard, which has been part of the ACC’s ongoing efforts to modernize Arizona’s Energy Rules and would replace the standard set in 2010, would require utilities to implement energy efficiency measures by 2030 that are equivalent to 35% of their 2020 peak demand. This new standard has the potential to open the door for even greater use of existing energy efficiency measures as well as new innovations in home storage, automation, and smart grid technology. The new standard will also provide the kind of long-term market certainty that is necessary to drive increased innovation.

The ACC should be commended for finally moving on important energy policy issues facing the state of Arizona with bipartisan agreement. There is significant common ground on energy and environmental issues that too often goes unnoticed, and making progress on updating and modernizing our state’s energy rules shows that pragmatic solutions, which voters hold as a priority, are possible.

Doran Arik Miller is state director for the Western Way. 

We need a statewide renewable energy plan

Solar panels and wind turbine against blue sky

Arizona’s economy is booming. Even with the Covid economic downturn, Arizona’s economy is making steady gains. 

recent study by University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management found that Arizona’s recovery from the pandemic gained significant momentum in the second quarter of 2021, with jobs, home sales, and construction showing strong upward trajectories. The positive outlook predicts Arizona jobs to regain pre-pandemic peak in the fourth quarter of this year, and the long-run outlook calls for continued strong growth with Arizona forecasted to generate job, income, and population gains outpacing the rest of the nation.  

Doran Arik Miller

Over the next 30 years, Arizona’s population is expected to surge to 10 million people, and the state is expected to add at least 1.5 million jobs in that time.  

As we experience this tremendous population and economic growth, we need to make sure we have sufficient energy to power our economy. That said, we all recognize that there are environmental impacts to traditional methods of energy generation. Innovation in renewable energy, including solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal, as well as other clean sources such as hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture, and advanced energy storage, are demonstrating that there is a path to a low-carbon future, and that those methods of clean and renewable energy generation also help drive economic growth and create jobs. 

To put this in perspective, renewables represent a $64 billion market in the United States. In Arizona, we are witnessing the growth of this market. Our state is emerging as a national leader in technology and innovation, including developing and adopting advanced energy solutions for our advanced economy. From solar energy to zero emissions vehicles to research in sustainability and infrastructure improvements, Arizona’s economy is benefiting from this industry.  

Jaime Molera

Some of Arizona’s largest businesses, including Apple, PepsiCo, and Target, have applied positive pressure on Arizona utilities to provide them with clean and renewable energy options, and Arizona’s three largest utilities have now committed to generating most of their energy from carbon-free sources in the coming decades. 

Arizona has become a hub for the zero-emissions vehicle industry, with companies like Lucid Motors, Nikola Corporation, ElectraMeccanica and others within the supply chain establishing a strong and growing presence in the state. Nikola is also spearheading research and development in the future of the hydrogen economy. We have companies like First Solar taking an innovative and sustainable approach to solar power, and Kore Power is doing the same with battery storage.   

The clean energy and innovation sectors are already playing a significant role in driving Arizona’s economy. But if we want this trend not just to continue but to accelerate, we need a coordinated and strategic statewide approach that not only recognizes the role clean energy plays in economic development but also leverages the leadership and innovation of the private sector. That is going to require the right policy framework, incentives, and opportunities for public private partnerships, including updated and modernized energy rules from the Arizona Corporation Commission; incentives for greater adoption and deployment of energy efficiency measures and technologies; coordinated investment in statewide infrastructure projects for zero emission vehicles and other types of renewable energy infrastructure; and investment in research, development, and commercialization of new technologies. 

It is also imperative that Arizona has a comprehensive statewide plan for other impacts of the changing energy landscape. That means developing a coordinated approach on issues like electric vehicle infrastructure and energy storage to ensure that rural Arizona has a seat at the table and that new technologies can be rapidly adopted by consumers and utilities alike.     

Arizona is witnessing tremendous success in expanding our economy. While a competitive business climate with low taxes and limited regulatory intrusion has drawn businesses to our state, now is the time to examine how better coordination and leadership from our businesses and policymakers at all levels can lead to even greater success.    

Doran Arik Miller and Jaime Molera are the Arizona directors of The Western Way, a nonprofit organization that builds support for commonsense market-driven solutions to environmental challenges that support the economy and improve the environment.