BREAKING: SEIA expected to name Abigail Hopper as new CEO

Politico is reporting that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) will name Abigail Ross Hopper as its CEO.

Hopper, who previously served as a top energy advisor to former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and director of the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), is expected to be officially announced within the next several weeks. She would be the first woman to head the the organization.

Dan Whitten, SEIA’s vice president of communications, said that although Hopper has been reported as being the pick, SEIA is not currently confirming the appointment. “We hope to make an announcement as soon as we know everything is nailed down,” Whitten said.

Hopper served as a member of Gov. O’Malley’s cabinet and as his senior staff as his senior energy advisor. In her position as the head of MEA, she oversaw a $55 million budget for an agency whose sole goal was to help the state reach its aggressive renewable energy goals.

Hopper spent much of her time as O’Malley’s advisor lobbying the Maryland legislature for such legislation as the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would have changed the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS)  from 20% by 2022 to 25% by 2020.

The bill to make the change was vetoed this spring by current Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, though most Maryland solar observers expect the legislature to override the veto early in the 2017 session because the bill passed with veto-proof majorities.

Hopper was also involved as a lead negotiator in two major utility mergers: Exelon/Constellation and the First Energy/Allegheny Energy. She worked closely with the state’s Public Service Commission, chaired both the state’s Grid Resiliency Task Force and the Resiliency Through Microgrids Task Force.

The position has been held by Tom Kimbis, who was named interim president in April when previous President and CEO Rhone Resch stepped down.