Concentrated solar power is pumping millions of dollars into Arizona through Abengoa Solar and BrightSource Energy.
Bennett Curry, managing director of business attraction for the Arizona Commerce Authority, has a very full dance card at this year’s Intersolar North America convention in San Francisco.
He has 13 meetings scheduled with companies from around the globe to convince them that Arizona will be the best new home for their companies and all the jobs that go with them.
Intersolar North America started July 12, and runs through Thursday. It’s a massive coming together of the solar industry expected to draw more than 2,000 visitors and 800 exhibitors.
Arizona’s green economy has been growing in recent years, and the state is aggressively pursuing a reputation as the center of the American solar universe.
While the state is competing with some other more established solar destinations and some that are just as fast-growing, Arizona is offering businesses a little something to sweeten the deal, and so far, it’s working.
Since January of 2010, the state has brought in thousands of new green tech jobs with its Renewable Energy Tax Incentive, Curry said. About 100 new companies, ranging in sizes, have moved to the state. The incentive offers a tax credit of 10 percent of a business’s start-up expenses involved with moving to Arizona. “We have the sun here,” Curry said. “We have the technology, and we know how to use it.”
Those are the other reasons Curry said the initiative has been successful. An aggressive incentive program like this one makes sense in a state where solar energy seems like a natural fit for the environment, culture and people.
Among those businesses that have relocated to or greatly expanded operations in Arizona are, First Solar, which is building a new thin-film plant there that will employ more than 600 people. Rio Glass brought more than 300 jobs to its manufacturing plant, which is providing concentrating solar power technology to the new massive Solana solar plant.
Gestamp Solar, which is scheduled to open next month, is also bringing in 300 new jobs. “We’re trying to build up a solar sector here, a cluster,” Curry said. “We want to help create jobs in Arizona, good jobs, for people who need jobs.”
He said he doesn’t expect to lure all 13 of the corporations he’s meeting with in San Francisco this week, but hopes more than half of them will take him up on his offer.