Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

October 28, 2010

Host: Ted Simons

Renewable Energy Jobs

  • Scottsdale-based Fluidic Energy is locating its manufacturing center in Maricopa County. Greater Phoenix Economic Council President and CEO Barry Broome talks about this development in Arizona‚Äôs ongoing effort to become a leader in renewable energy.
  • Barry Broome - President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: susatinability,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Arizona continues to make progress on efforts to become a leader in renewable energy. Today the greater Phoenix economic council announced that Scottsdale-based Fluidic Energy will locate its manufacturing center in Maricopa County. Choosing Arizona over other southwester states. The company has developed a new battery technology for storing renewable energy. Here to tell us what this means for Arizona is Barry Broome, president and CEO of the greater Phoenix economic council. Good to see you again. Without get doing technical, what exactly does this company do?

Barry Broome:
Well, one of the fastest growing elements of this new renewable solar, wind, energy market is the ability to store the energy. And so we create a metal air battery, it's rechargeable, which is different than you see in the marketplace today, the metal air battery is the preferred system for long-term low-cost storage. We have a rechargeable technology, and it eliminates a lot of the elements of diesel generation, and battery aesthetics, but this storage technology is very versatile, it can be used in solar, wind, electric cars, smart grid, so we're starting to see as we've built this solar strategy and renewable strategy, we're starting to see the versatility of how technology and components can come into this market to not only serve our solar and renewable app tights, but smart cars and grids.

Ted Simons:
It sounds like the kind of deal where I know with the renewable energy there's a concern when the sun is not shining or when there's low or high demand, whether or not that energy will still be there, will still be attainable. This helps.

Barry Broome:
Yeah. And a lot of -- the two questions on renewable and solars, are the costs going to come down, and is the energy going to be reliable. What we're starting to see now in the market is breakthrough storage technology, and this is a great example of a lot of people doing a lot of great work. Not only the work of GPEC on the tax credit program and our work with the company, but this is really I think one of the greatest achievements of Arizona State University that this technology comes out of ASU, and it's another example of Governor Brewer coming to the table and working on keeping jobs in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
I want to talk about that partnership with ASU in a second. Back to this company, they're going to put a manufacturing plant in. What kind of jobs and how many, and what are we talking about?
Barry Broome:
The first phase is -- projects to be several hundred jobs. A lot of these companies are backed with private equities, this company is both manage and run and backed financially by world class people with tremendous track records in the solar and renewable space. These jobs will pay on the levels of the honeywells and Intels. So you're looking at jobs in the 50, 60, 70, 80,000 range, a lot of engineers, a lot of technology jobs, and it's going to be -- it's a good example how the University system interfacing with the economy can create the better scalable jobs that we've been missing in the past, and I think it's a real achievement for Arizona state.

Ted Simons:
Is there a location that they're looking at, extra -- what kind of -- Maricopa County, a big county.

Barry Broome:
They're in scale right now, and one of the things we like to do in our organization is if the company was built in Scottsdale, Scottsdale is a great location, but the jobs and the taxes and the income that circulate from this company will be shared across many municipalities. So they're going to open up something, hopefully something in the spring, get under construction and begin delivering next generation storage technology to the market to scale.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned Scottsdale-based. Up and coming company. Looking to expand for this manufacturing plant. Could have gone anywhere, decided to stay put. First of all, how important is it to keep these kinds of companies, and secondly, who else was gunning for them?

Barry Broome:
Throughout the mountain west region, Denver, northern California in particular, very good reputations in renewable and storage technology base, and one of the challenges we have in adds is not only bringing the companies to Arizona, but keeping the companies that come out. Lots of great companies have spun out of the University of Arizona, even T-GEN and gone into the California market because they have better innovation platforms. This is a company that's going to be taking advantage of the semi conductor heritage in this market, the great engineering talent that's come out of the University of Arizona, and Arizona state University. But renewable tax credit program that Governor Brewer signed will lower their taxes by 80% over 10 years, and depending on the scalability of this technology, could provide them $11 million in refundable tax credits. The difference in the past a year ago, we could not have offered this company anything. We couldn't have affected their tax position, we could not lowered their capital costs, and now that company is going to go out and shop and go in the markets that offer equal or better environments for technology and talent, and offer better economics. Now our economic position is a lot better and we just need to improve on the talent side to grow these companies.

Ted Simons:
Back to the partnership with ASU and using ASU as kind of a regional driver, if you will, for these kinds of companies, talk to us about that.

Barry Broome:
Well, one of the things that I think -- we're really blessed with a University system across the board that really feels it has a dedicated responsibility to grow jobs in the community. And Arizona State University I think with achievements like sky song, the development of their efforts in the downtown campus, Polytechnic, some of the work that they're doing with solar and renewables becoming world class, is really becoming an important jumping-off point for us. Arizona state University is also doing some really impressive things on the health care side with Dennis Cortiz, Arizona state still works in concert with the University of Arizona and the medical campus downtown that University of Arizona is anchoring. So these universities work very well together, they're important part of the economic solution in Arizona, if we're going diversify this economy, the Universities and the ability to leverage Arizona State University is going to be one of the key components, and this is a perfect example of that.

Ted Simons:
Before we go, science foundation Arizona is getting some discretionary stimulus money from the governor's office. A couple million dollars, I should say. What does that mean for, again, growth in technology sectors and just overall growth here in Arizona?

Barry Broome:
One of the things I think Governor Brewer is doing a great job is she's really starting to think about Arizona's economy in a strategic way. We've run into a lot of simple understandings of Arizona's economy, and it's really let us down this path of being incredibly dependent upon retail construction and housing. The ability to build highly specialized scientific capabilities through the science foundation of Arizona, like a bio-signatures lab, it's going to be very important, so that contribution by our governor, a very shrewd example of the governor's use of stimulus dollars, and having the science foundation gives us a vehicle to leverage assets we already have in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
Keeping it is another matter. Do you think it will survive?

Barry Broome:
I do. I think people are going to see -- this governor is going to demonstrate a real commitment to keeping science and technology a centerpiece in her economic platform. And I think we elected a lot of bright young people to the legislature, it looks that way, and I'm confident next year you're going to see the legislature and the governor come together on a jobs bill, that's going to feature not only providing a better tax and economic environment for companies, but a better commitment to science and technology.

Ted Simons:
Very good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Barry Broome:
Thank you.

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