Today marks a change of the guard; it’s Abby Hopper’s first day at the helm of the industry’s most influential organization, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Succeeding Rhone Resch after his 12 years in the leadership role, Hopper has experience in both state and federal agencies, with her most recent job at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) within the Department of Interior. Here are a few things you may not know about SEIA’s new president and CEO:
1. She’s a bridge-builder
Hopper has worked across the aisle many times to try to “figure out the right thing to do for our state and our nation.” When power outages struck Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley asked her to find ways to improve the resiliency of the electric distribution grid—in 60 days.
So, she assembled a group of utility executives, environmental groups, ratepayer advocates and experts in resiliency for eight roundtable discussions.
“Bringing together a diverse group of people who are pretty invested in their interests to come up with a solution was important,” Hopper said in a conference call with solar industry journalists.
They came out of the meetings with a roadmap for improvement and, importantly, a plan for how to pay for it.
2. She is cautiously optimistic about the preservation of solar tax credits
Hopper feels comfortable that since the extended solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was put in place by a bipartisan agreement, it will remain intact in the new administration.
“We think that the solar industry has a strong story to tell that resonates with our president-elect in terms of job creation, innovation and investment, energy security and energy certainty in terms of the price,” Hopper said.
3. She’s ready to get hands-on and also delegate
Hopper has been on the receiving end of lobbyists in her past roles, and she knows what it takes to be heard by legislators.
She said the most important aspect of lobbying is sending the right messenger for the case. Sometimes, she will be the best messenger as CEO of SEIA, but there may be times when other people will be a better fit because of an existing relationship or another dynamic.
4. She has a to-do list
Though Hopper said this list may adjust based on the needs and wants of SEIA’s membership, she came up with her top three priorities:
- Ensure continuation of federal tax credits
- Create strong markets at the state level
- Advocate for inclusivity in solar: Make it available to low- and moderate-income households, and ensure that the solar workforce is inclusive to women and people of color
Hopper is excited to start her new chapter with SEIA. “This is an esteemed organization that I have had the honor of working with for the last decade, and now I get to be a part of it,” Hopper said.