Abigail Ross Hopper has been named president and chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and will start Jan. 17.
Ms. Hopper brings to the top post at SEIA extensive leadership experience overseeing federal and state agencies. She joins SEIA from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) within the Department of Interior where she weighed complex and sometimes conflicting factors to achieve balanced federal energy policy. Among her achievements were the leasing and permitting of oil, gas and renewable energy projects.
Prior to that, she led the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), served as energy advisor to former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and was deputy general counsel to the Maryland Public Service Commission. Her expertise in energy markets and state-level electricity policy, as well as her experience managing environmental issues, will be critical to ensuring the advancement of solar energy across the United States.
Hopper joins a successful and growing trade organization that represents one of the country’s biggest economic growth drivers. After securing an extension to the federal investment tax credit at the end of 2015, SEIA expanded its membership, grew revenue by more than 15 percent and achieved significant policy advances in critical states in 2016. Key wins included contributing to the defeat of Florida’s anti-solar Amendment 1, leading coalitions to establish community solar markets in New York and Colorado and protecting net metering programs in California and Massachusetts.
Hopper takes the reins at SEIA at a time of record-setting growth in the solar industry. This year, the U.S. is on track to surpass 50 gigawatts (GW) of total solar capacity on its way to 100 GW by 2020. One GW of solar electricity is enough to power approximately 160,000 American homes. Meanwhile, solar costs continue to fall while its popularity rises across residential, commercial and large-scale utility sectors.
“Abby possesses the leadership skills, experience and infectious enthusiasm needed to help drive solar’s rapid but sustainable growth trajectory,” said SEIA Board Chairman Nat Kreamer. “Her unique experience and bridge-building talents are an asset for the entire industry and will aid in strong solar success for years to come.”
“I am thrilled to lead the Solar Energy Industries Association,” Hopper said. “I have spent my career working with all sides of the political and ideological spectrum to arrive at pragmatic approaches to energy policy. I look forward to utilizing that experience to serve our SEIA members.”
Tom Kimbis, who served as interim president of the association for the last eight months, has been promoted to executive vice president and general counsel. In this capacity, Kimbis will continue as a strong voice in the solar industry by leading policy and strategic initiatives.