Arizona State Flag

Fifty-five years ago, the first world symposium on solar energy was held in Phoenix.  A reporter for the Christian Science Monitor captured the momentous nature of the gathering:

To say that they [the delegates] are enthusiastic would be an understatement.  These experts say that they are convinced that they are on the track of something which will rank with atomic energy as a source of new abundance in the world–the practical development of the tremendous energy that comes daily from the sun.  There is enough of this energy striking the earth to meet the foreseeable energy needs of the entire world if only it can be usefully harnessed…Jesse E. Hobson, director of the standford [sic] Research Institute, ranked the energy of sunlight with that of the atom as one of the main hopes of the world to meet its needs when present day fuels run out.

Wow!  Back in the early days of the fossil fuel joyride, some very forward-thinking scientists foresaw the end of the age of oil and set their sights on the sun to keep the home fires burning.  A half-century and a half dozen false starts later, their dream is becoming reality.

It’s no accident that the symposium took place in Phoenix.  With 300 sunny days a year, Arizona is the Persian Gulf of the solar industry.  The fifth fastest growing solar state in the nation, Arizona is on the cusp of exponential solar growth thanks to almost-too-good-to-be-true new rebates, tax credits and other incentives.  Although the state’s coal and uranium resources have kept electricity rates relatively low, the new solar incentives, combined with the federal tax credit, make solar energy financially competitive with fossil fuels.  In other words, in Arizona, it finally pays to go solar.

As a member of the Western Climate Initiative, Arizona set a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels by 2020 and 50% below 2000 levels by 2040.  Its utilities are required to get 15% of their power from renewables by 2025, and there’s talk of raising the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to match its neigbhors–Colorado’s RPS is 30%  by 2020, and Nevada’s is 20% by 2015.

We know Arizona can achieve its goals and we’re here to help.  Beginning this month, Sungevity is offering home solar for Zonies served by Arizona Public Service, the Salt River Project and Tuscon Electric Power.  With Energy Independence Day (July 4) just around the corner, we hope the solar revolution in Arizona will inspire a certain someone who lives in a big White House in D.C. to follow suit.

Tune in tomorrow for a breakdown of the amazing and incredible solar rebates offered by the big three Arizona utilities, and the answer to today’s Trivia Challenge: What is Arizona’s official state neckwear?

–Erica Etelson

Posted by Danny Kennedy

Danny Kennedy co-founded Sungevity and now serves as strategic advisor. He is an internationally recognized opinion leader on climate and energy issues. He is the author of Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy - and Planet - from Dirty Energy (2012), a book that has been described as the clean energy manifesto for the next greatest generation.