• Apply Now For The 2017 AriSEIA Arizona Solar Tour

    AriSEIA’s 2017 Arizona Solar Tour takes place the weekend of Oct 7-8, 2017. Various residential and commercial solar systems across the Valley of the Sun will be open to the public with the system owners and installers present to share their knowledge and experience, and to answer questions regarding the system as well as the process of going solar in Read more
  • Eclipse Viewing Warning

    Eclipse Viewing Warning Looking at the sun can be dangerous Poster as a .pdf More information at the Space.com website Read more
  • Know Your Rights

    Arizona law protects individual homeowners’ private property rights to solar access by dissolving any local covenant, restriction or condition attached to a property deed that restricts the use of solar energy. This law sustained a legal challenge in 2000. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of homeowners in a lawsuit filed by their homeowners association seeking to Read more
  • Agua Caliente PV Power Plant Among World’s Largest

    The Agua Caliente solar farm near Yuma features First Solar’s thin-film cadmium-telluride (CdTe) solar modules. Located 65 miles east of the city of Yuma, Arizona, this plant is one of the world’s largest operational PV power plants with 290MW (AC) connected to the electricity grid. Read more
  • Solar Hot Water

    There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don't. The typical solar water heater is comprised of solar collectors and a well-insulated storage tank. The solar collector is a network of pipes that gathers the sun's energy, transforms its radiation into heat, and then transfers that heat to either Read more
  • Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

    (Information provided by DSIRE - Last reviewed 02/19/2009) Incentive Type: Personal Tax Credit State: Federal Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Water Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Fuel Cells, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Other Solar Electric Technologies Applicable Sectors: Residential Amount: 30% Maximum Incentive: Solar-electric systems placed in service before 2009: $2,000Solar-electric systems placed in service after 2008: no maximumSolar water heaters placed in service before Read more
  • Solar Building Design in Arizona

    The idea of using the sun to meet the energy needs in our buildings has been with us since the time of the Greeks, with some of the design manifestations even evident in the prehistoric structures of Arizona and the Southwest. There is a great historic tradition for Arizona buildings that utilize our most abundant resource, and the current increases Read more
  • 1 Apply Now For The 2017 AriSEIA Arizona Solar Tour
  • 2 Eclipse Viewing Warning
  • 3 Know Your Rights
  • 4 Agua Caliente PV Power Plant Among World’s Largest
  • 5 Solar Hot Water
  • 6 Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
  • 7 Solar Building Design in Arizona

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Jim Arwood
28 December 2016

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”  --Winston Churchill

Jim Arwood
24 November 2016

The future is not what it used to be.

In the 1990s, the push for electric vehicles gained momentum in response to national security concerns over our reliance on imported fuels and tailpipe emissions.


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Sun, Aug 20, 2017
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Some things to pay attention to in Arizona

APS Rate Case - Higher rates, solar changes effective August 31st

APS customers have until August 31st to submit complete interconnection applications to APS in order to be grandfathered under current solar policy.  Basic rates will increase and net metering will be eliminated.  Further details will be posted soon. As of 8-17-17 the actual APS rate plans have not been released.

Quick APS Links:

News Release (Aug. 15, 2017)
Summary for Residential Customers
Summary for Business Customers
Solar Grandfathering Fact Sheet

Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT) Changes Affect Solar Business and Customers

AriSEIA reported this past November that the TPT exemption covering the installation of solar energy systems would expire at the end of the year with new regulations going into effect on January 1, 2017. A bill was introduced in the last session of the Arizona Legislature to make the exception permanent, but it did not receive a hearing. Since there was no bill passed to extend the exemption, the new regulations are in effect.  Below is the notice TEP sent to its contractors:

The First Regular Session of the 53rd Arizona Legislature adjourned last week and we wanted to make you aware of an important change that may affect your tax liability as a solar contractor. As of January 1, 2017, the gross proceeds of sales or gross income derived from a contract to provide and install a solar energy device are now taxable under the State of Arizona’s transaction privilege tax statute (see Arizona Revised Statutes Section 42-5075.B.13). An exemption for this activity had been enacted in 1996 with a sunset date of January 1, 2017. A legislator in UES’ service territory, Senator Sonny Borelli (R - Lake Havasu City), had introduced legislation that would have eliminated the sunset date and made the tax exemption permanent. However, the bill did not receive a hearing and this exemption is no longer effective as of January 1, 2017. Additionally, a policy rider effecting the exemption was not included in the budget signed by Governor Ducey.

From December 31, 1996 and up to January 1, 2017, the gross proceeds of sales or gross income derived from a contract to provide and install a solar energy device (commonly called Sales Tax in Arizona) were exempt.  It appears that this is no longer the situation and sales of solar devices may be subject to sales tax (TPT).  Thank your legislators.

Editorial Note:  A review of the Arizona Revised Statutes http://www.azleg.gov/arstitle/ Title 42-5061 (M) on 6-6-2017 indicates "M. There shall be deducted from the tax base the amount received from sales of solar energy devices.....".  Apparently only contracting is affected by the above TPT change.  Watch this space for updates as the Arizona solar industry researches this subject.

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Caution- News leads open in new windows. Warning- These news links are automatically generated by others such as Google News and are not reviewed by the Arizona Solar Center, Inc. We are not responsible for link content.

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azsolarcenter "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” --Winston... https://t.co/YZUiXLzsKz
azsolarcenter The Sun Day Blog: The future is not what it used to be. In the aftermath of the 2016 election, the question has... https://t.co/lSR5RFewJm
azsolarcenter Novermber 5, 2016 -- APS, pro-solar group together spend $6 million on Arizona Corporation Commission races: The... https://t.co/5xyq4EsoFm
azsolarcenter November 3, 2016 Solar Battles Playing Out On Arizona Ballot This Election: It may not be at the top of the... https://t.co/uYSRxv97YR
azsolarcenter November 4, 2016: Utility spends $3.5 million to keep Arizona Corporation Commission all-GOP: The state’s largest... https://t.co/imqk6z2sDU
azsolarcenter October 25, 2016: 42 States (and DC) try to screw with solar The 50 States of Solar Policy Report by the NC... https://t.co/JBYTzpf2ui
azsolarcenter October 24, 2016 -- Future of independent solar energy at stake in Corporation Commission raceL The long-term... https://t.co/D6jy4I5Ci0
azsolarcenter October 13, 2016 -- State policy matters: It is very easy to get distracted by the dog-and-pony show of this... https://t.co/MH7mEMg9MC
azsolarcenter October 16, 2016: Arizona Corporation Commission DebateL Five candidates running for three open seats on the... https://t.co/tm0XLl6CqG
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azsolarcenter There is No Plan(et) B: Climate change is no longer an issue that our politicians can kick down the road for... https://t.co/KHZzajZc9K
azsolarcenter High Noon: Nearly 40 years ago, President Carter proclaimed the dawn of the solar age. If President Carter was... https://t.co/JmZSHlmBUI
azsolarcenter High Noon: Nearly 40 years ago, President Carter proclaimed the dawn of the solar age. If President Carter was... https://t.co/rBgkaWKDs6
azsolarcenter High Noon: Nearly 40 years ago, President Carter proclaimed the dawn of the solar age. If President Carter was... https://t.co/RzXaQACpPR
azsolarcenter High Noon: Nearly 40 years ago, President Carter proclaimed the dawn of the solar age. If President Carter was... https://t.co/t1fKNTPwIB
azsolarcenter High Noon: Nearly 40 years ago, President Carter proclaimed the dawn of the solar age. If President Carter was... https://t.co/dWEKk3QR6H
azsolarcenter High Noon: Nearly 40 years ago, President Carter proclaimed the dawn of the solar age. If President Carter was... https://t.co/y4vhOpjfh1
azsolarcenter September 29, 2016: To cover a utility's fixed costs, are demand charges or time-of-use (TOU) rates superior?... https://t.co/RgneQWNKyM
azsolarcenter September 25, 2016: Arizona Public Service not only rejected an Arizona Corporation commissioner’s request to... https://t.co/iip6RwoOOS
azsolarcenter September 22, 2016: The Salt River Project (SRP) board of directors has agreed to purchase energy produced by... https://t.co/xYegEuiI43
azsolarcenter September 18, 2016: UniSource Energy officials have shelved plans to use of land surroundingMohave Community... https://t.co/eXmHxo03wQ
azsolarcenter September 13, 2016: The city of Sedona spent about 90 minutes at its September 13 council meeting discussing... https://t.co/LHV2QcsvYt
azsolarcenter September 15, 2016: New solar research projects at Arizona State University will receive $3.75 million in funding... https://t.co/N20NYLWxGy
azsolarcenter September 25, 2016: The parable of the frog and boiling water is hundreds of years old. It has been used... https://t.co/O5PYqvxIJg

Sonnen Signs a Deal to Put Storage in New Arizona Housing Developments

There is a point at which it will make economic sense to defect from the electrical grid

More than 1 million US homes have solar systems installed on their rooftops. Batteries are set to join many of them, giving homeowners the ability to not only generate but also store their electricity on-site. And once that happens, customers can drastically reduce their reliance on the grid.

It's great news for those receiving utility bills. It's possible armageddon for utilities.

A new study by the consulting firm McKinsey modeled two scenarios: one in which homeowners leave the electrical grid entirely, and one in which they obtain most of their power through solar and battery storage but keep a backup connection to the grid.

Given the current costs of generating and storing power at home, even residents of sunny Arizona would not have much economic incentive to leave the electric-power system completely - full grid-defection, as McKinsey refers to it -until around 2028. But partial defection, where some homeowners generate and store 80% to 90% of their electricity on site and use the grid only as a backup, makes economic sense as early as 2020.

This scenario is already playing out in Australia and Hawaii, and has begun spreading to solar-friendly markets such as Arizona, California, Nevada, and New York. As batteries get cheaper and better, utilities are rattled at the prospect of losing a massive share of their revenue.

A self-reinforcing cycle is at work. As consumers make their own energy, rates must increase on those left to cover the system's fixed costs. This raises rates still further, making it even more advantageous for customers to leave the grid.

Instead of adapting to this dynamic, utilities have generally sought to stifle solar with time-of-use pricing, demand charges, or cutting compensation for electricity exported back to the grid.

But as daily needs for many are supplied instead by solar and batteries, McKinsey predicts the electrical grid will be repurposed as an enormous, sophisticated backup. Utilities would step up and supply power during the few days or weeks per year when distributed systems run out of juice. Our analysis helps show the grid is very valuable as a backup investment, says Amy Wagner, a co-author of the McKinsey report.

Only, the business models of utilities are not designed for this. Their revenue typically depends on selling kilowatt hours: more electricity equals more money for utilities. Power users don't respond quickly to daily price spikes in their power bill, so ratepayers absorb electricity costs. That goes away in a world where software managing a grid connection can automatically switch to batteries to avoid high charges. A new business model is needed.

The only way to pay for the grid is as a network, said McKinsey's David Frankel, a co-author of the report. "It's very counter to what the industry has seen." Instead of paying per kilowatt, he suggests, grid users could pay for access and reliability, with one fee covering the vast majority of usage. The model might resemble the fixed, monthly charges we're used to paying for cell phone data and calls.

At the moment, only a tiny fraction of utility customers have left the grid or installed batteries. But it's happening faster than was expected several years ago. Solar panels and battery prices are dropping fast - lithium-ion batteries have fallen from $1,000 to $230 per kilowatt-hour since 2010 - as massive new solar and battery factories come online in China and the US. By 2020, Greentech Media projects, homes and businesses will have more battery storage for energy (841 megawatts of capacity) than utilities themselves.

Utilities may find they need to retool their business models sooner than they think.

From

https://qz.com/1017457/there-is-a-point-at-which-it-will-make-economic-sense-to-defect-from-the-electrical-grid/

Can the U.S. Grid Work With 100% Renewables? There's a Scientific Fight Brewing

A battle royal between competing visions for the future of energy blew open today on the pages of a venerable science journal. The conflict pits 21 climate and power-system experts against Stanford University civil and environmental engineer Mark Jacobson and his vision of a world fueled 100 percent by renewable solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy. The criticism of his “wind, water, and sun” solution and an unapologetic rebuttal from Jacobson and three Stanford colleagues appear today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

From  IEEE Spectrum  By Peter Fairley

Posted

The critics enumerate what they view as invalid modeling tools, modeling errors, and “implausible and inadequately supported assumptions” in a projection of the midcentury U.S. energy supply that Jacobson and his coauthors published in PNAS in 2015. “The scenarios of [that paper] can, at best, be described as a poorly executed exploration of an interesting hypothesis,” write the experts, led by Christopher Clack, CEO of power-grid-modeling firm Vibrant Clean Energy

Clack says their primary goal is accurate science, the better to equip policymakers for critical decisions: “We’re trying to be scientific about the process and honest about how difficult it could be to move forward.” 

The text and statements by Clack's coauthors question Jacobson’s evaluation of competing energy technologies, and specifically his rejection of two nonrenewable energy options: fossil fuel power plants equipped to capture their own carbon dioxide pollution, and nuclear reactors. 

Jacobson calls Clack's attack “the most egregious case of scientific fraud I have encountered in the literature to date.”

In fact, while both sides claim to be objectively weighing the energy options, the arguments and backgrounds of the protagonists belie well-informed affinities for various energy sources (and informed biases against others). As sociologists of science would say, their choice of data and their reading of it reflects hunches, values, and priorities. 

Consider Clack’s coauthor Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Caldeira's press release broadcasting their critique argues that removing carbon dioxide from the U.S. power supply is a massive job demanding the biggest tool box possible: “When you call a plumber to fix a leak, you want her to arrive with a full toolbox and not leave most of her tools at home," says Caldeira. 

The same document then abandons this technology-agnostic tone to call out nuclear energy and carbon capture as technologies that “solving the climate problem will depend on.” And Caldeira has appealed for deploying a new generation of nuclear reactors, which he and other nuclear boosters such as former NASA scientist Jim Hansen say are needed because renewables “cannot scale up fast enough.”

They could be right. Then again, expert sources they cite, such as the International Energy Agency, have consistently underestimated renewable energy growth. And identical scale-up critiques have also been well argued against nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Jacobson makes some powerful arguments for walking away from those technologies in his PNAS papers. Nuclear liabilities cited by Jacobson include the threat of future Fukushima-like disasters, nuclear weapons proliferation facilitated by large-scale uranium enrichment, and the financial risks such as those that recently bankrupted Westinghouse. And, as he notes in his rebuttal, the International Panel on Climate Change has determined there is “robust evidence” and “high agreement” among experts validating these nuclear risks. 

Jacobson’s rejection of CCS technology, meanwhile, may provide deeper insight on what makes him a magnet for academic attacks. 

The main thing that soured Jacobson on CCS was his own pioneering work on the climate change impacts of black carbon, or soot. Fossil fuel plants that capture most of their CO2 still release soot that's both a public health menace and an agent of climate change. In a 2001 paper in Nature on simulations of soot particles in the atmosphere, he controversially argued that soot in the air and on blackened snow and ice fields absorbs enough heat to make its climate impact second only to CO2. Sixteen years on, that view now enjoys strong support from the science community.

Jacobson subsequently turned his science on black carbon into political activism, helping to convince California regulators to deny low-carbon incentives to “clean diesel” technology. A decade later that tech is in disarray—sullied by scandals over fraudulent tailpipe cleanup claims. European automakers long reliant on diesel technology are now abandoning it in favor of hybrids, as IEEE Spectrum reported in April.

His style, however, has not necessarily made him popular among climate scientists. Drew Shindell, a climate modeler at Duke University, describes Jacobson as a brilliant scientist with an unusual go-it-alone style that alienates some researchers. 

Whereas most climate models are honed by large teams, composed of hundreds of scientists, Jacobson single-handedly constructed the GATOR-GCMM climate model that underpins his work—including the 2001 Nature and 2015 PNAS reports. Shindell says other climate models are also shared more freely and subject to much more independent validation than Jacobson's. So when he claims that “his model is more complex and therefore better,” says Shindell, it “rubs people the wrong way."

To Shindell, however, Jacobson’s outspokenness and solo style do not invalidate his work. In fact, he argues that raising important questions is Jacobson’s greatest contribution: “His work does prompt people to really look closely. That’s also a service to the community.”

Could something similar be playing out now in PNAS? Power experts can bristle at outsiders who offer novel approaches to their problems. In 2004 Spectrum profiled mathematical modelers—a power engineer and a pair of plasma physicists—who were drawing heavy fire for the unorthodox prediction that big blackouts are inevitable. That trio (Ian Dobson, Benjamin Carreras, and David Newman) endured years of derision and saw their research funding pulled. They ultimately triumphed by all but predicting the Southwest blackout of 2011, a story I documented for Discover magazine last year.

Jacobson and his PNAS coauthors similarly crafted their own unorthodox energy model—LOADMATCH—which sets a bold vision. While their critics mostly model power grids, Jacobson's team used LOADMATCH to map out a 100-percent-renewable route to meeting all major energy needs in the continental United States. The model replaces fossil fuels for heating and transportation with hydrogen and electricity generated by renewables, thereby tackling nearly all greenhouse emissions from fossil fuels rather than just the 35 percent from power plants.

The weakest point in Jacobson’s 2015 paper identified by his critics is a heavy reliance on hydropower plants, which serve as his simulated power grid's backstop energy supply during long periods of weak sun and becalmed winds. This jumps out in the graph [above], which simulates total continental U.S. heat and power generation over four days in January 2055. Hydro turbines ramp up heavily each day after the sun sets, delivering as much as 1,300 gigawatts at their peak—a level that implies a 15-fold expansion in hydropower generating capacity.

Jacobson says the LOADMATCH code adds turbines to existing hydropower dams as required to prevent power outages. The reservoirs are untouched, and thus store the same amount of energy. But that energy is concentrated into those hours of the year when no other power source is available. 

However, no such expansion is documented in the 2015 paper. Critic-in-chief Christopher Clack argues that it is a modeling error because, according his analysis, adding the required turbines at existing dams is not physically possible. And even if it were, he says, discharging the hydropower as described would impose unacceptable impacts on aquatic ecosystems and downstream water users. Invalidating that option, says Clack, means Jacobson’s scheme will cause blackouts: “The whole system breaks down.”

Jacobson admits the 2015 paper was “vague” on the hydropower upgrade but stands by its technical and economic viability. The environmental impacts, he says, reflect a cost that policymakers pursuing his road map would need to consider. All clean energy solutions will require trade-offs, says Jacobson, noting that the low-carbon grid projection that made Clack’s reputation, a 2016 report in Nature Climate Change, calls for a much larger build-out of unpopular powerlines.

Jacobson also has alternative sources of backup power, such as adding turbines to more rapidly convert stored heat from solar thermal power plants into electricity. "We could increase [their] discharge rate by a factor of 3.5 to obtain the same maximum discharge rate of hydro, without increasing the [solar thermal plants’] mirror sizes or storage,” he says.

If you’re wondering where battery storage figures in all of this, it is yet another option—though one that both Jacobson and Clack deemed unnecessarily costly in their respective studies. Clack’s 2016 projections relied mostly on flexible natural gas power plants rather than dams or batteries to handle residual power demand—delivering a 78 percent reduction of power sector carbon emissions from 1990 levels by 2030.  

What is certain, from the darkening findings of climate science, is that climate change calls for a bold remake of the global energy system of the sort that both Clack and Jacobson have championed. Their respective visions certainly appear to have more in common than ever as the Trump administration seeks to turn back the clock on grid engineering.

The U.S. power sector is bracing for the release of a power grid study ordered by President Trump on whether renewable energy installations degrade grid reliability by undermining continuously operated “baseload” nuclear and coal power plants. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s memo commissioning the study states as fact that “baseload power is necessary to a well-functioning electric grid.”

Last week, the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Mark Dyson and Amory Lovins called out that “curious claim,” which they say, “has been thoroughly disproven by a diverse community of utilities, system operators, economists, and other experts that moved on from this topic years ago.” What the grid needs, they write, is flexibility, not baseload power plants.

The power industry is already moving in that direction. For example, flexibility was California utility PG&E’s central argument last year when it announced plans to shut down the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant when its reactor licenses expire in 2024 and 2025. The baseload plant was ill suited, PG&E said, to help them manage the increasingly dynamic power flowing on California’s grid.

Dyson and Lovins' prescription for the power grid community, meanwhile, is unity. As they titled last week's post: “The grid needs a symphony, not a shouting match.” 

See the comments posted with the original article:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/renewables/can-the-us-grid-work-with-100-renewables

Almost Too Much Wind Power in Europe

It’s Been So Windy in Europe  (June 2017) That (Wholesale) Electricity Prices Have Turned Negative

But we can't always rely on bad weather.

Editor's Note by the Arizona Solar Center:

This is one of the technical problems with renewable energy, sometimes the local utility (or even regional inter-tie area) will end up with more renewable energy than anticipated or useful.  For many reasons local utilities do not generate all the energy their customers need.  In the USA and Europe there are wholesale energy markets in which utilities and independent power producers buy and sell energy under contracts. There can be minimum and maximum power levels for specific time periods.  System operators need to maintain a balance of generation vs. customer loads (not a simple task), and must consider the varying load characteristics of the various generation sources. As a result some suppliers may be told not to supply contracted power (and may receive compensation as a result), and adjoining utilities may be paid to accept some extra power. 


It's been very windy across Europe this week (June 5, 2017). So much so, in fact, that the high wind load on onshore and offshore wind turbines across much of the continent has helped set new wind power records.

For starters, renewables generated more than half of Britain's energy demand on Wednesday—for the first time ever.

In fact, with offshore wind supplying 10 percent of the total demand, energy prices were knocked into the negative for the longest period on record. The UK is home to the world's biggest wind farm, and the largest wind turbines, so it's no surprise that this was an important factor in the country's energy mix.

"Negative prices aren't frequently observed," Joël Meggelaars, who works at renewable energy trade body WindEurope, told Motherboard over the phone. "It means a high supply and low demand."

Indeed, there were a few periods in recent days during which Denmark's supply of wind energy alone exceeded local demand—as much as 137 percent  overnight when demand was lower.

In total, around two percent of Europe's total energy supply was being provided by offshore wind on Tuesday.

"That's a very high level," said Meggelaars.

Producing more energy than your country can use isn't always a bad thing. It often simply means that energy can be sold on to neighbors, as is frequently the case with Danish supplies to The Netherlands, Germany and Norway.

The news comes not long after it was revealed that, worldwide, renewables supplied a record 161 gigawatts of electricity in 2016—and at a price that was 23 percent cheaper than it would have been in 2015.

Of course, one of the main features of energy sources such as wind that is made clear by this recent news is just how variable, or perhaps unreliable, it is. As a result, most countries still rely on more predictable sources of energy such as gas, nuclear, or biomass to provide their "base load"—the minimum demand on the electricity grid over time.

Source 6-8-2017 https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/its-been-so-windy-in-europe-that-electricity-prices-have-turned-negative

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  • Welcome to the Arizona Solar Center

     This is your source for solar and renewable energy information in Arizona. Explore various technologies, including photovoltaics, solar water heating, solar architecture, solar cooking and wind power. Keep up to date on the latest industry news. Follow relevant lectures, expositions and tours. Whether you are a homeowner looking to become more energy efficient, a student learning the science behind the technologies or an industry professional, you will find valuable information here.
  • About The Arizona Solar Center

    Arizona Solar Center Mission- The mission of the Arizona Solar Center is to enhance the utilization of renewable energy, educate Arizona's residents on solar technology developments, support commerce and industry in the development of solar and other sustainable technologies and coordinate these efforts throughout the state of Arizona. About the Arizona Solar Center- The Arizona Solar Center (AzSC) provides a broad-based understanding of solar energy, especially as it pertains to Arizona. Registered Read More
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