Discovering Solar Power in Arizona

Arizona has quickly becoming one the best states in the U.S. for solar power. Currently, Arizona ranks as the fourth highest in installed solar PV capacity among U.S. states. In fact, Arizona solar energy made substantial strides in 2010 by installing over 54 megawatts of solar power, doubling its 2009 output of 21 megawatts, again ranking it fourth in the U.S. According to a study by GTM Research, the total amount of photovoltaic panels installed on roofs in the U.S. was approximately 878 megawatt…this was double the 435 megawatts installed in 2009 around the U.S. Despite some cutbacks in Arizona solar incentives in 2010, Arizona ranked behind only California solar (259 megawatts), with New Jersey and Nevada ranking second and third respectively.

Arizona’s increased solar installations was helped by federal incentives as well as those from state sponsored programs at Arizona Public Service Co. and Salt River Project (read about Arizona solar rebates here). In addition, Arizona has been pushing for a solar manufacturing cluster with some success at luring manufacturing. Last year, China-based Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. and California-based inverter manufacturer Power-One Inc. were among the newest solar manufacturers to move their facilities to Arizona, which already includes other solar companies in Arizona such as thin-film solar giant, First Solar.

Arizona’s government institutions have supported this growth legislatively by blazing a trail that other states may eventually follow. The Arizona Corporation Commission has set an aggressive goal of generating 15% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources, including solar power, by 2025. In real dollars, Arizona’s regulated utility companies have been mandated by the Arizona Corporation Commission to spend more than $185 million to subsidize energy efficiency projects and renewable energy (solar power) programs in 2009, and more than $1.2 billion through 2025. (Source: ACC)

Arizona has also created a program to help maintain the safety and integrity of its solar industry with the Arizona Solar Watchdog Program. The purpose of this program is to teach potential solar consumers how to check Arizona solar companies license, credentials and work history. To help give this program added teeth, every contractor, including solar contractors, in Arizona needs to be registered with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors where they are issued a license number which can then be looked up using the step-by-step process outlined under the Arizona Solar Watchdog Program.

With all of this infrastructure in place, it is not surprise that Arizona solar power is blooming.

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