Letter highlights enormous opportunities to save people money, reduce pollution, create jobs and advance equity

14 Organizations urge local Arizona leaders to maximize the benefits of new federal investments

September 29, 2022

Caryn Potter, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP)


[PHOENIX, AZ] – Today, a broad coalition of clean energy, faith-based, consumer, and community organizations called on tribal, city, and county leaders to take full advantage of the incredible opportunities presented by the federal Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure law to build a better future for people all across the region.

The groups delivered a letter to hundreds of elected officials, noting that “new federal funds have enormous potential to save residents and businesses money on energy and transportation, create new jobs and expand prosperity – while also improving our health and protecting our climate. However, how states and local governments choose to implement new policies will have a large effect on their overall impact.
In the letter, groups urged leaders to maximize the benefits of new federal funds by aiming to:
  • Save people money by reducing consumption of fuel and increasing renewable energy;
  • Create green jobs and help residents find work in sustainable, forward-looking careers;
  • Reduce climate-changing pollution in line with state, national and international climate preservation goals;
  • Improve public health by investing in opportunities to cut soot and smog pollution;
  • Advance equity by targeting programs and investments toward communities that have historically been left behind or subjected to disproportionate negative impacts; and to
  • Do no harm by refraining from investing in projects that actively increase pollution, increase or extend reliance on fossil fuels, waste money, deepen inequities or impede a just transition for workers.
“This is a once-in-a-generation chance to imagine what a better future for Arizona looks like, and then to make it real,” said Elise Jones, Executive Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “We’ve got to get it right.”
“These transformative investments put us on a path towards real solutions to the climate crisis,” said Pat O’Connell, Interim Clean Energy Director at Western Resource Advocates. “It’s an unprecedented opportunity, and as billions of dollars flow to states and local governments, it is critical that decision-makers work with stakeholders across their communities to make the best choices. This is their chance to identify and implement projects that advance the clean energy transition, provide equitable benefits to all people, create new good-paying jobs, and improve the resiliency of communities already experiencing the impacts of climate change.”
The letter outlines some of the many new opportunities available to state and local leaders, including:
  • Large new rebate programs to help improve building energy efficiency and accelerate the deployment of efficient, electric appliances to save money, increase comfort and reduce pollution;
  • Billions of dollars to invest in cheaper, cleaner electric vehicles, as well as money that could go toward transit, biking, and walking to give more people access to mobility and reduce the need to drive;
  • Incentives to build compact, location-efficient cities and towns where residents can accomplish their daily tasks with less time, money and pollution.
  • New and upgraded tax credits and funds to increase the supply of clean electricity and energy storage and integrate that into our electric system by improving the flexibility, resiliency, and efficiency of the power grid and investing in grid expansion;
  • New funding and incentives to improve industrial operations through efficiency and clean energy; and
  • Billions of dollars that leaders can use to facilitate a Just Transition by helping workers and communities successfully benefit from progress toward a clean energy future, especially where legacy facilities are closing.
“The IRA is expected to add at least 65,000 new jobs in the renewable energy sector in Arizona by 2035, “ said Autumn Johnson, Executive Director of the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA). “Cities that proactively develop plans for transportation electrification or  Climate Action Plans or the like will get the bulk of those jobs and the other economic development opportunities that will follow. Local governments planning for the clean energy transition has never been more essential.”
“We have long known that energy efficiency is the cheapest and cleanest energy resource,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director for Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter. “Now we have a great opportunity to utilize the dollars from the Inflation Reduction Act to really ramp up efficiency and do so in the communities that need it the most, primarily low-income communities and communities of color, those that bear a disproportionate part of the burden of the cost of energy, the pollution, and the impacts from climate change.”
“As retired Arizonans and members of organized labor, we believe that a sustainable future and a strong union workforce are essential for future generations in our state,” said Saundra Cole, President of the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans. “We know that the growing clean energy economy offers higher salaries, benefits, and unionization rates than the economy at large. The investments in the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law offer us the chance to build on that progress. This is a major step toward a sustainable Arizona and a better future for the workers who call it home.”
“People of faith and conscience are thrilled to see these investments a clean energy future for EVERYONE,” said Rev. Doug Bland, Director, Arizona Interfaith Power & Light.  “Faith leaders in Arizona champion these bold investments, especially those made to underserved communities that have been marginalized and ignored too long.”
The letter notes that resources are available to help local governments navigate essential decisions to access new grants, such as the Local Infrastructure Hub (localinfrastructure.org). The non-profit organizations that drafted the letter plan to work with state and local officials to provide advice and assistance toward maximizing overall benefits.
The letter was signed by representatives of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, Western Resource Advocates, Chispa Arizona, Plug-in America, Vote Solar, Solar United Neighbors of Arizona, Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association, Arizona Interfaith Power & Light, Arizona Trail Association, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, VetsForward and Dream.org.