By Ryan Randazzo | The Republic | azcentral.com
For the veterans of Arizona’s small solar water-heating industry, staring down an industry-crippling crisis is nothing new.
Dozens of companies that installed about 130,000 solar water heaters in the state in the early 1980s were wiped out overnight when the government cut federal tax credits in 1985.
Few companies withstood that blow, although dozens sprouted in 2005 when federal tax credits for the industry were reinstated. Now another potentially devastating policy change looms as the state’s biggest utility has ended its incentives for solar water heating.
Arizona Public Service Co. is required to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, and to accomplish that goal, it has provided rich incentives for rooftop solar electric and other technologies, including water heating.
But because APS is ahead of schedule reaching its renewable-energy mandates, it has stopped offering incentives for solar water heating. The money the utility provided to offset the initial cost of the rooftop systems ran out in September, and APS is not seeking to repeat the offering in 2014.
Along with federal and state tax credits, the utility incentives created a boom in recent years among the solar water-heating and solar electric, or photovoltaic, installations.