Kimbis, Mansour out at SEIA

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As an organization that has been around for as long as this writer has been alive, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is not known for rapid changes, including in its staff. However, today pv magazine confirmed that the organization has removed two of its senior executives – Executive VP and General Counsel Tom Kimbis, and VP of Federal Affairs Christopher Mansour.

The terminations are described as amicable, and part of larger changes in the strategy of the organization.

“We are grateful for the contributions Tom and Christopher have made to SEIA and to the solar industry,” reads a statement from SEIA CEO Abigail Hopper. “They have been highly effective advocates for solar. But with new strategic priorities came the need for personnel changes, and I made difficult decisions I think are in the association’s – and the industry’s – best interests.”

SEIA VP of Communications Dan Whitten elaborated on this further, noting that while SEIA will be hiring more executives, Mansour and Kimbis will not necessarily be replaced and new executive may not have the same roles.

There is a shifting in priorities to different areas,” Whitten told pv magazine. “We have laid out a strategic direction, within the federal affairs side there is more emphasis on FERC, RTOs and markets, and less on traditional lobbying.”

Whitten was quick to note that the organization will still engage in lobbying. However the move is a natural response to increased threats to the solar industry by a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that appears to be interested in finding new ways to compensate coal and nuclear power plants, which could distort wholesale markets and negatively affect clean energy.

After serving under former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Mansour served at SEIA in his current role for more than five years. Kimbis was at SEIA for eight years and five months, following a role as chairman and executive director of The Solar Foundation. He additionally served as interim president of SEIA between the resignation of Rhone Resch and the hiring of Hopper.