U.S. solar lobbying group names ‘bridge builder’ as new lead

Source: By Nichola Groom, Reuters • Posted: Monday, January 9, 2017

The U.S. solar industry’s top lobbying group named energy policymaker Abigail Ross Hopper as its new chief executive, pledging pragmatism as the sector prepares to work with an incoming president who has expressed doubts about its importance.

Hopper joins the Washington-based Solar Energy Industries Association after serving as director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for two years. At the BOEM, Hopper was responsible for leasing and permitting oil, gas and offshore wind projects.

She replaces Rhone Resch at SEIA, who stepped down in May after 12 years at the group’s helm.

In a statement, Hopper said she had spent her career “working with all sides of the political and ideological spectrum to arrive at pragmatic approaches to energy policy.”

Prior to her role at BOEM, Hopper held a range of energy policy roles in Maryland, including serving as energy advisor to former Governor Martin O’Malley.

SEIA has been instrumental in garnering federal government support for solar power, including winning a five year extension of the industry’s federal tax credit at the end of 2015.

The industry, which has grown dramatically in the last decade, has received support from many Democratic and Republican lawmakers in recent years in part because it employs hundreds of thousands of workers.

But U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has said solar and wind are too expensive. He has also called global warming a hoax and promised to quit a global accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions, prompting concern among renewable energy proponents.

SEIA Board Chairman Nat Kreamer said Hopper was chosen in part for her “brige-building talents.”

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Andrew Hay)