Arizona’s economy is booming. Despite the Covid economic downturn, Arizona’s economy is steadily growing.
A Recent study The University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management found that Arizona’s recovery from the pandemic picked up significantly in the second quarter of 2021, with jobs, home sales and construction showing strong upward trends. The positive outlook predicts Arizona jobs will return to pre-pandemic peak in the fourth quarter of this year, and the long-term outlook calls for continued strong growth, with Arizona expected to create jobs, incomes, and population gains that the rest of the nation does surpass.
Arizona’s population is projected to rise to 10 million over the next 30 years, and the state is expected to create at least 1.5 million jobs during that time.
Given this tremendous population and economic growth, we need to make sure we have enough energy to power our economy. However, we all know that traditional methods of generating energy have an environmental impact. Innovations 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 show that there is a path to a low carbon future, and that these methods are clean and Renewable energy generation also help to stimulate economic growth and create jobs.
To put that in perspective, renewable energies represent a $ 64 billion market in the United States. In Arizona we are seeing this market grow. Our state is emerging as a national technology and innovation leader, including developing and adopting advanced energy solutions for our advanced economy. From solar energy to zero-emission vehicles to research into sustainability and infrastructure improvements, Arizona’s economy benefits from this industry.
Some of the largest companies in Arizona, including Apple, PepsiCo, and Target, have put positive pressure on Arizona utilities to provide them with clean and renewable energy options, and Arizona’s three largest utilities are now committed to generating most of their energy from carbon-free sources over the coming decades.
Arizona has become a hub for the zero-emission vehicle industry, with companies like Lucid Motors, Nikola Corporation, ElectraMeccanica and others building a strong and growing presence in the state within the supply chain. Nikola is also a pioneer in research and development in the future of the hydrogen economy. We have companies like First solar pursue an innovative and sustainable approach to solar energy and Kore power does the same with battery storage.
The clean energy and innovation sectors already play an important role in boosting Arizona’s economy. But if we want this trend not only to continue but to accelerate, we need a coordinated and strategic nationwide approach that not only recognizes the role of clean energy in economic development, but also harnesses the leadership and innovation of the private sector. This requires the right policy framework, incentives and public-private partnership opportunities, including updated and modernized energy regulations from the Arizona Corporation Commission; Incentives for greater adoption and use of energy efficiency measures and technologies; coordinated investments in nationwide infrastructure projects for zero-emission vehicles and other types of renewable energy infrastructure; and investing in research, development and commercialization of new technologies.
It is also imperative that Arizona have a comprehensive statewide plan for other impacts of the changing energy landscape. That means taking a coordinated approach to issues like electric vehicle infrastructure and energy storage to ensure rural Arizona has a place at the table and new technologies can be quickly adopted by consumers and utilities.
Arizona is experiencing tremendous success in growing our economy. While a competitive business climate with low taxes and limited regulatory intervention has drawn businesses into our state, now is the time to examine how better coordination and governance by our businesses and policymakers at all levels can lead to even greater success.
Doran Arik Miller and Jaime Molera are the Directors of Arizona The western way, a not-for-profit organization that builds support for sensible, market-oriented solutions to environmental challenges that support the economy and improve the environment.