PHOENIX (AP) -- An economic development group trying to get solar-panel manufacturing companies to locate in Arizona said the state is losing the fight to neighboring states.
The Greater Phoenix Economic Council said at least nine companies that make solar equipment have passed up metropolitan Phoenix in the last year in favor of neighboring states. The projects would have accounted for more than 3,800 jobs, $2.3 billion in investment and $732 million in state and local revenues during the next decade.
Even so, 11 solar companies are scouting Phoenix for new manufacturing locations, representing 4,800 jobs and $5.5 billion in investments.
But Barry Broome, president and chief executive of the economic development group, isn't confident that without incentives his group will be able to outpace Oregon, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, California and Colorado.
Broome, who has endorsed a state tax incentive package to help bring solar manufacturers to Arizona, said solar manufacturing jobs should be attractive to Phoenix because the region not only boasts a sunny climate, but is losing comparable jobs in the semiconductor industry that could be replaced by solar-industry jobs.
Arizona is planning at least two major solar-thermal power plants, and state utilities are required to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power by 2025.
But those commitments alone aren't enough to convince companies to move manufacturing plants here when other states are offering cash incentives, Broome said, which he does not endorse.
The incentive proposal, which was wrapped into a job stimulus package unveiled recently at the Legislature, includes a transferable income-tax credit and property-tax relief for solar companies relocating to Arizona that pay at least 150 percent of the median state wages and 80 percent or more of their employee health-coverage premiums.
The transferable income-tax credit would allow companies that are slow to generate significant cash flow a means of earning revenue by selling the credit to another company that could cash it in incrementally over five years, he said. It would be capped at 10 percent of the capital investment a company makes in Arizona. The property-tax provision also would be based on the amount of money invested and paid to employees.