Arizona solar industry thrives
Michael Neary remembers when the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association was a tiny trade group made up primarily of businesses that installed and maintained solar water heaters and rooftop panels.
But all that changed two years ago, when its 40-member roster more than doubled as real estate firms, law offices, tool suppliers, staffing companies, electricians and plumbing distributors suddenly became eager to join the mix.
Neary, executive director of the association, said the change reflects a movement quietly taking shape within the state’s renewable energy industry: Supply-chain businesses and other support providers are cropping up to serve the growing number of solar companies and manufacturers operating in Arizona.
“The growth of the solar supply chain all depends on how the industry is going, and this year we’ve seen a turning point in the industry,” he said.
Neary is referring to the buzz created by tax incentives and recruitment efforts that have lured some big players to the Valley and have helped place the state front and center on the national, if not global, renewable energy stage.
Since January, the Valley has seen China-based solar giant Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd., and Camarillo, Calif.-based inverter manufacturer Power-One open production plants in Goodyear and Phoenix, respectively.
Abengoa Solar Inc., a division of Spanish solar company Abengoa SA, is moving forward with plans to build a 280-megawatt power plant on about 31,000 acres in Gila Bend. Local firm Stirling Energy Systems teamed with Tessera Solar to formally flip the switch on their solar test power plant in Peoria.
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