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Is solar power losing steam in Arizona?

PHOENIX — Arizona certainly has the sunshine it takes to produce solar energy but continues to struggle when it comes to solar-power business.

While the state is second in the country in solar-panel installation, manufacturing is a different story.

Last week Suntech closed its Goodyear solar-panel manufacturing plant, losing almost 50 jobs and First Solar is struggling.

Thunderbird School of Global Management professor John Mathis said it’s time for a new line of thought in luring solar-panel makers to Arizona.

China dominates the world’s production of solar panels.

“Locating manufacturing facilities on tribal land that is close to where the source is,” he said. “There’s inexpensive labor and it may take some training. But it’s home and they earn the money here and spend the money here.”

China’s advantage when it comes to solar-panel manufacturing has been lower wages, which are beginning to rise. Mathis said that could keep more companies on American soil.

“At some point it will be to the advantage of U.S. companies to locate at home because of the labor cost standpoint.”