The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the national trade group representing the U.S. solar sector, has appointed Abigail Ross Hopper its new president and CEO, effective Jan. 17.
Hopper will take over for Tom Kimbis, who has served as interim president of the association after long-time leader Rhone Resch stepped down about eight months ago. According to SEIA, Kimbis will stay at the organization as executive vice president and general counsel, thus continuing as a strong voice in the solar industry by leading policy and strategic initiatives.
Hopper brings to the top post at SEIA extensive leadership experience overseeing federal and state agencies. She joins SEIA after serving as director of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), where SEIA says 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. As MEA director, Hopper was pivotal in ensuring the passage of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013.
SEIA says Hopper’s 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 U.S.
The organization notes that 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 GW of total solar capacity on its way to 100 GW by 2020. 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,” says 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,” comments Hopper. “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.”
Official portrait of Hopper courtesy of the BOEM website