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Biden sends $1 million to Arizona in solar power push

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(The Center Square) – The emphasis on solar power in rural areas as a means of alternative energy continues to be a focal point of government spending, especially with federal taxpayer dollars headed to Arizona.

In a news release last week, Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly announced that $974,538 in grants will go toward four businesses in Arizona to develop “solar energy projects.” The funding stems from the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants program.

“We’re lowering energy costs for small businesses in rural Arizona by investing in solar energy projects to fuel economic opportunities and power homes with clean energy,” Sinema said in a statement on Thursday.

Kelly took a similar tone, saying it boosts the state’s standing when it comes to the energy sector.

“Investments like these solidify Arizona’s role as a clean energy hub and help drive costs down for businesses across the state,” Kelly said in a statement.

According to a news release, $682,539 will go toward Churcho Produce in Nogales, which is a large producer of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. Circle Z Ranch in Patagonia was granted $226,249, and the property serves as a guest ranch. Justin Littenford LLC was granted $37,750 and Pinion Painting was granted $28,800.

The funding is specifically part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which is similar to other funding for solar grants nationwide.

The Center Square reported last week that Arizona was granted $156 million through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and has gotten funds through the IRA. Notably, that grant is also supposed to give some assistance to rural communities as well – and came with a $7 billion price tag for this round of grants nationally.

Increasing the use of solar seems to be a clear goal of the Biden administration, with the Bureau of Land Management advocating for “approximately 22 million acres of land open for solar application” with hopes of achieving “net-zero” emissions by 2035, based on its potential updates to the Western Solar Plan. While some say it’s a push for solar will have its benefits, the plan has received some criticism, including over cost and environmental impact.

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