The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has presented both U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and U.S. Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., with the SEIA Solar Champion Award, an honor the organization bestows upon entities or individuals who have helped strengthen solar power in U.S.
“Under the leadership of Senator Burr and Representative Holding, North Carolina now ranks in the top 10 for both solar deployment and solar jobs, proving the payoff to expanding solar development is indisputable,” says Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “These legislators have demonstrated that they recognize solar is an economic engine, not a partisan technology. We thank them for their support and proudly present them with these well-deserved awards.”
SEIA says the two North Carolina lawmakers were awarded this recognition for their continued leadership in the Senate and House to promote greater use of solar energy. Their support helped secure an extension of the federal solar investment tax credit in 2015, leading to increased deployment and employment nationwide.
“The solar industry employs over 7,000 people in North Carolina – a testament to how many folks are using solar energy in our state,” comments Holding. “I’m honored to receive this award and excited to see what the industry develops in the years to come to meet our growing energy demands.”
According to recently released data from SEIA and GTM Research’s U.S. Solar Market Insight report, North Carolina now ranks No. 2 in the nation for cumulative solar capacity, with 3,012 MW of solar installed. SEIA says this growth has led to the solar industry becoming a major employer in the state, with 1,161 solar jobs added in North Carolina in 2016 alone – bringing the total to more than 7,100 solar employees in the Tar Heel State, representing manufacturers, contractors, project developers, distributors and installers.
Earlier this week, SEIA also presented Richard Kauffman, New York’s chairman of energy and finance and NYSERDA board chair, with the Solar Champion Award.
“As a result of Mr. Kauffman’s leadership, the solar industry in New York has grown tremendously across all market sectors, serving as a model for the rest of the nation to follow,” says Hopper. “His commitment to solar energy, as translated into the innovative policies he has conceived, is creating substantial investment and jobs in the Empire State, which results in real prosperity for thousands of New York families. We proudly present Mr. Kauffman with this well-deserved award.”
According to SEIA, Kauffman has long established himself as a supporter of renewable energy. His efforts to develop the NY SUN program, a $1 billion initiative to support 3 GW of installed solar capacity by the year 2023, is expanding solar access across New York. He is also one of the architects of the Reforming the Energy Vision effort and helped lead the development of New York’s noteworthy 50% by 2030 clean energy standard.
SEIA says these policies have helped New York become the sixth largest state in the U.S. for its number of solar jobs, with solar now employing more than 8,100 New Yorkers, according to The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2016.
Burr, Holding and Kauffman are just some of the latest officials to receive SEIA’s accolades. Toward the end of 2016, the organization presented now-former U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., with the first-ever Lifetime Solar Pugilist Award, as well as named four other members of U.S. Congress to receive the Solar Champion Award.