Community, solar industry leaders highlight opportunities to help consumers, grow clean energy economy

Speakers at Climate Action Campaign Tucson, AZ event
Speakers at Climate Action Campaign Tucson, AZ event(APEX strategic consulting)
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 1:46 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Tucson business and community leaders gathered Wednesday, March 1, to highlight ways the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) can create opportunities for consumers and Arizona’s clean energy economy.

Tucson Council Member Kevin Dahl joined nonprofit community leaders and solar business representatives to discuss opportunities solar grants and incentives included in the legislation.

The highlights include creating clean energy jobs, investments in cutting energy costs for Arizona families and incentives such as tax credits to help families switch to cheaper, cleaner electricity.

Dahl, who represents Ward 3, said the tax credits could cut 30% off the cost of rooftop solar systems.

“Even as the clean energy industry has exploded in our state, a lot of Arizonans have been left out,” Dahl said. “But new solar incentives include a 30% tax credit off the installation cost and another 30% for stand-alone battery installation. This will be transformative for all Tucson homeowners and nonprofits, especially those previously priced out.”

Experts estimate that an additional 150,000 Arizona households will install rooftop solar panels because of IRA investments.

The new incentives will also address a previous gap in benefits for nonprofits.

The IRA bill includes $20 billion allocated for nonprofit organizations to implement projects that cut pollution and energy costs. The bill includes $7 billion for tribes, municipalities and nonprofits to install rooftop community solar energy in communities in need.

Frank Velásquez Jr., board president of The Drawing Studio Inc. and founder of 4 Da Hood, described how nonprofits could impact communities because of clean energy investments.

“The direct pay assistance will allow us to go solar, and lower energy costs mean more resources dedicated to our programming that lift Arizonans,” Velásquez said.

The IRA also increases funding for the Rural Energy for America Program, which provides grants and loans to farms and small businesses in rural America that invest in clean energy technologies.

Adrian Keller, the Arizona program director of Solar United Neighbors of Arizona, said “SUN has already helped thousands of Arizonans save money on their electric bills thanks to solar co-ops, and we’re very excited that the IRA incentives will allow us to expand our reach to both urban and rural communities.,”

The Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA) aims to help Arizonans go solar by meeting with co-ops and local governments to improve the state, local and utility policies and bring the latest technology advancements to Arizona.

“The most important changes are the tax credit reverting to 30%, and the incentive adders - Domestic Content, Low Income, and Energy Communities. For the Low Income Adder and Energy Communities, new guidance just came out in the last few weeks, but it seems many Tucson and surrounding area projects will benefit from the new bonus incentives,” said Robert Neifert, Director of Business Development, Solar Gain Inc. and co-chair of AriSEIA’s Public Policy Committee.

At the end of the event, speakers urged President Joe Biden’s administration to “complete the job on climate” and implement solutions for pollution to help slash climate pollution in half by 2030.