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Wed, Aug. 21

Editorial: Sun shines on one Arizona industry

The solar industry was in the news in the past week, one piece that leads to kudos and one that gives pause.

Governor Jan Brewer's office issued a news release Tuesday announcing that Arizona ranks second nationally in terms of solar system installation. With an increase in photovoltaic (PV) system installations over the past quarter, Arizona has edged out New Jersey to become the nation's second largest producer of renewable energy, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association report, "US Solar Market Insight: 2nd Quarter 2012."

"This is fantastic news, and further illustrates how Arizona has become a national leader in the development of solar power," Brewer said. "This means not only clean, renewable energy, but also quality jobs for Arizonans. I am thrilled to see our great state at the forefront of this promising industry, and I look forward to Arizona further establishing itself as our nation's Solar Capital."

That is good news.

Nationally, photovoltaic installations have boomed, increasing 45 percent since March and 116 percent in the past year. Growth was particularly strong in terms of utility installations, as more than 20 large projects were completed nationwide. In fact, according to the SEIA, this quarter was the most productive in the history of the U.S. market for utility installations.

Arizona climbed one spot in the SEIA national rankings since the first quarter of 2012, and now trails only California in terms of solar megawatt production.

That leads us to the bad news, rather a reminder of such.

Remember Solyndra? It is one of the Obama administration's greatest embarrassments because it touted the California firm in such glowing terms. Obama continues to tout green energy, including in Thursday's acceptance speech, despite Solyndra's calamitous failure.

We say that because that same day was the one-year anniversary of when Solyndra's lawyers filed for bankruptcy, cementing the firm's status as, in the words of the House committee, "a stark reminder of the Obama administration's misguided priorities and failed stimulus economy."

Obama did not mention the anniversary last week.

The committee has been relentless in its probe of Solyndra's shaky financial underpinnings, and the investigation found that the Department of Energy broke the law when it restructured terms of a government-guaranteed loan.

What is the link between the two besides solar power? Rankings, such as those from the SEIA, offer power. They help put Arizona on the map, attracting such business and businesses. At the same time comes the reminder: do business right.

As for California being the No. 1 state in terms of solar production? If the Solyndras of the world continue unabated, Arizona might soon replace California on top.

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