Since 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and its members have worked to promote, develop and implement the use of solar energy in the United States.
On January 24, 1974, a group of five industry members met in the noisy basement of the Washington Hilton to discuss the possibility of establishing an association for the solar industry. They agreed to create "a broad-based trade association supporting prompt, orderly, widespread and open growth of solar energy resources now." This was the beginning of SEIA's four decades of solar energy advocacy.
SEIA faced a host of formidable challenges early on, chief among them, building a profitable solar energy industry. Sheldon Butt, SEIA's first president, was famously quoted as saying "shouldn't we have an industry before we can have an industry association?" But SEIA had emerged just as the effects of the first oil embargo were becoming painfully clear. SEIA would play a central role in integrating solar energy into the energy saving policies of the Carter Administration.
In the 1980s the solar industry faced one of its biggest challenges when President Reagan signed a tax bill that severely cut federal research funding and residential tax credits. Despite the political climate, SEIA, through its strength in numbers, was able to promote ongoing research and development funding, which kept solar energy a priority for the Department of Energy.
SEIA has grown tremendously from its early days. By the 1990s, SEIA had built the association to encompass 150 national members. As of January 2013, SEIA represents over one thousand companies from across the solar supply-chain, from all technology and market segments. Installers, project developers, manufacturers, contractors, financiers, law firms, non-profits have all seen the value of joining SEIA and participating in the future of the solar industry in the U.S. Through the work of SEIA and its members, the solar industry has become the fastest growing industry in America.