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Solar Power in Phoenix, AZ – Dry Heat? No, it’s a Hot Heat!

Avatar for Dave Llorens
Published on 10/18/2009 in
Updated 08/30/2019

solar phoenix

Phoenix, AZ is one of the US’s hottest solar markets right now. Maybe the hottest.  (FYI, Solar Fred recently updated the Arizona page if you’re looking for solar power rebates, incentives, and tax credits in Phoenix, AZ).

I recently got back from Phoenix where my coworker, Brad, and I were meeting with local solar installers to pick a winner for 1BOG’s Phoenix solar group purchase program.  I’ve had the luxury of traveling around and looking at different cities for 1BOG and it’s interesting to see the differences between them. Solar markets are so nuanced geographically.

Why is Phoenix’s solar market so hot?

  • GPECGPECs chairman is also the president of the AZ Cardinals, and they have worked heavily to get the solar industry to come to Phoenix, and they’ve succeeded. They’ve worked on legislation to make AZ attractive to big solar business.
  • Lots of Sun – As simple as it may sound, the residents of Phoenix know they get a lot of sun.  There’s a heat tolerance of solar panels that makes crystalline silicon solar products perform poorer in the heat, but that effect is outweighed by the massive year-round sun.  Technology aside, the year-round sun makes its citizens more receptive to listen to the idea (something we have to fight in SF, or Seattle, for example).
  • Large rebates – Both utilities that service the region, SRP and APS have handsome rebates.  SRP does $2.70 per DC watt (although the cap at a 5kW system is a real hindrance in a place with huge bills due to year round AC), and SRP does a whopping $3.00/DC watt.  Pile on a $1000 AZ state solar tax credit with the 30% federal tax credit and you’ve got a solid financial proposition for most everyone in Phoenix.

What’s interesting there?

  • The way they quote the Federal tax credit:  Here’s one super interesting thing.  I’ve now seen SF, LA, San Diego, Denver, Sonoma County, New Orleans.. and this is the first market where many solar installers are quoting the Federal tax credit differently.  Typically, it’s 30% of your out-of-pocket expense (the correct way, although hey, legal small print: we are not tax professionals and please consult yada yada….).  But many installers are quoting the tax credit as 30% of gross price, making it look much more attractive. I think one lawsuit (poor tax advice makes you liable to the tune of 3X your damage I believe) will settle this dispute once and for all.
  • Two separate meters!  Most places that allow net metering will come and swap out your meter with a net meter when you get solar.  In Phoenix, they come and put in a second meter which is your “production” meter, and then they come every month and compare the two.  Not a biggie,  but just another piece of evidence that shows we need some national standards if you want big companies to be able to scale quickly.
  • Spanish tile – Er… there’s a ton of Spanish tile and most companies don’t seem to charge adders for it because it’s so common in Phoenix. But typically tile roofs are more expensive install.  You have to be delicate with it and replace the tiles you break.

What does Phoenix’s solar market still need?

  • Inspector training – It’s a relatively new market.  It’s like Denver two years ago, and so a few installers noted that there is significant expense dealing with new inspectors, who in this country, are allowed to interpret electrical code.  Because they have not seen a lot of solar, they’re likely to hold up installs, sometimes unnecessarily.
  • Standards in permitting and coding:  Line side taps are not yet legal in a lot of places in Arizona, but those make solar easier (some people have to change their electrical service to get solar, which is very expensive.  A line side tap is a cheap, and excellent, alternative to that solution).  Some neighborhoods disallowed a roof mount system called tile trac (which is a great system) for whatever reason.  Things like this make it difficult for install crews to do scalable business all over the city.

When it’s all said and done, however, Phoenix is still the land of the sun and solar. Get a free quote and find out if you can take full advantage of this abundant natural resource.

Last modified: August 30, 2019

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