Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who sustained a traumatic brain injury in a shooting last January, has announced she will step down from Congress in order to continue her recovery.
Throughout her service, Giffords was among the House's strongest advocates for solar energy. Last January, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President and CEO Rhone Resch praised her as a ‘key supporter as SEIA pushed for the eight-year extension of the solar investment tax credit and the recent one-year extension of the Treasury grant program.’
Giffords also introduced several pro-solar bills during her time in Congress. Proposed legislation included the Solar Technology Roadmap Act, which would dedicate over $2 billion to new research partnerships and demonstration projects for solar energy technologies.
Her staffers continued to attend major solar power conferences, reach out to the solar trade media and hold their own solar-focused events at her office in the months after she was wounded.
Prior to being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2006, Giffords served five years in the state legislature. In a videotaped message to her constituents and the public, she noted that her public-service career has not come to an end. ‘I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country,’ she said.
In the meantime, Giffords' exit creates a void in Arizona's pro-solar representation and could challenge the state's solar sector, according to the Phoenix Business Journal.
The article notes that Arizona lacks another solar champion among its congressional representatives. Some of the state's other elected officials, including Sen. John Kyl, have, in fact, questioned the validity of solar power development.