Skip to main content

How bright is Arizona's energy future?

Stephen Goodnick
February 19, 2013

One of ASU President Michael M. Crow’s goals for ASU for 2013 and beyond is to “undertake applied sustainability research that impacts the social, environmental and economic evolution of the Southwest.” Perhaps nowhere on any ASU campus is that goal more fervently pursued than in the labs and minds of LightWorks, ASU’s initiative for creating light-inspired solutions for the energy challenges of today and tomorrow.

Stephen Goodnick, LightWorks deputy director, will offer two promising perspectives on America’s energy future – what role Arizona can play in U.S. energy production and policy and how ASU and LightWorks can help our state secure that role – at a Feb. 28 event.

Goodnick’s presentation, “Arizona’s Solar Energy Future,” is part of the ASU Foundation’s Presidential Engagement Programs series, and is scheduled to take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in the boardroom on the sixth floor of the Fulton Center, 300 E. University Drive in Tempe.

For a state with so much sunshine, Goodnick notes, Arizona currently captures only a tiny portion of its available energy.

“If you took a snapshot today,” he says, “the fraction of Arizona’s total energy coming from renewables, apart from hydroelectric, is less than 1 percent of the total electric power used by the state. However, that fraction is rapidly changing as a number of large-scale solar projects come on line, and the state is actually ahead of the schedule set by the corporation commission.”

That progress doesn’t mean the state’s solar future is assured, Goodnick warns, listing obstacles such as the overall costs of solar electricity and financing for large scale solar developments.

“At the moment, ‘green’ energy such as solar is still more expensive than conventional energy,” he admits, “though it is rapidly coming down in price. On the other hand, there is a large potential payoff for Arizona in terms of the growth of solar industry in the state, both in power generation and manufacture of solar technology and the associated supply change supporting such a high-tech industry. This will lead to the growth of new industries, jobs and an enhanced tax base improving the overall economy of the state.”

The growth of solar energy would bring commensurate benefits for ASU, Goodnick asserts. He says the university has been a solar energy leader since the 1970s, with an even stronger commitment in the last decade.

“ASU under President Crow made energy sustainability a major focus of the university. It is one of the primary efforts supported by state funds through the presidential initiative LightWorks.”

That commitment resulted in enough solar panels deployed around the Tempe campus to provide for 25 percent of the university’s electricity needs, Goodnick says. And it is that commitment that he, Crow and LightWorks hope will make ASU the state leader in solar energy technology and opportunity.

Admission to “Arizona’s Solar Energy Future” is $25. Register at For information, contact Sally Moore at 480-965-4814 or

Erik Ketcherside,
Communications Manager | Editorial Services
ASU Foundation for A New American University