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Five Members of Congress Receive Major Solar Accolades

Thursday, Oct 06 2016

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is honored to present Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) with the first-ever Lifetime Solar Pugilist Award. SEIA is also proud to announce the selection of four other Members of Congress to receive the prestigious SEIA Solar Champion Award, an honor bestowed upon entities or individuals who have helped strengthen solar power in America.

Senators Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) were named on Thursday by the association as the latest award recipients for their efforts to promote greater use of solar energy across America.

“Support for solar energy is support for American jobs and innovation,” said Tom Kimbis, SEIA’s interim president.  “These five legislators have demonstrated through their leadership in the halls of Congress, their public support and their voting records that they recognize the enormous benefits – from national security to economic development – bestowed on our nation through solar energy. We credit them with recognizing that solar is not a partisan technology, thank them for their relentless support, and proudly present them with these well-deserved awards.”

Sen. Reid has been the strongest advocate for the solar industry ever to serve in Congress. In his capacity as Senate Democratic Leader, Sen. Reid served as a key negotiator in securing both long-term extensions of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in 2008 and 2015 and was the architect of the credit in 2005. Without Sen. Reid’s leadership and persistence, the solar industry would not have experienced its vast growth in recent years and the incredible growth to come. With his impending retirement, this first-ever Lifetime Solar Pugilist Award is truly meant as a commendation from a grateful industry in recognition of his long record of leadership in fighting for solar energy.

The four recipients of the Solar Champion Award were honored in particular for working to preserve and extend the ITC. As a result, SEIA estimates that solar jobs will more than double to 420,000 by the end of the decade from 209,000 American solar jobs now. In addition, solar power in this nation will more than triple during that time, hitting 100 gigawatts by 2020, enough to power 20 million American homes.

Individual Accolades

Sen. Dean Heller has emerged as a leading Republican voice for solar energy in the Senate. In an era when Republicans and Democrats often find little common ground, Sen. Heller has bridged the political divide, standing up for an innovative American industry that is poised to help usher in a modern energy economy. With his position on the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Heller ensured that the ITC remained a key component of the final negotiations of the 2015 tax and budget debate, working with committee and Senate leadership to secure the ITC extension. SEIA applauds Sen. Heller for his leadership and is proud to present him with this Solar Champion Award.

Sen. Michael Bennet has a longstanding record in support of solar energy. In the 113th Congress, Sen. Bennet introduced legislation to allow solar developers to claim the solar ITC based on when they started construction, instead of when the project was finished. In the 114th Congress, Sen. Bennet continued this effort, working on a bipartisan basis with his fellow members on the Senate Finance Committee and with Senate leadership. In 2015, Sen. Bennet ultimately succeeded in securing that important reform along with a five-year extension of the ITC. Sen. Bennet’s efforts will result in tens of thousands of new American jobs in the solar industry, many of which will be in his home state of Colorado. SEIA is proud to present Sen. Bennet with this well-deserved Solar Champion Award.

Rep. Tom Reed has long established himself as a reasoned, thoughtful leader on the House Ways and Means Committee. He further cemented this reputation when he stepped up his efforts in defense of solar in 2015 to ensure committee and House leadership included an extension of the ITC as part of the final tax and budget deal. To his credit, Rep. Reed recognizes that an “all of the above” approach to American energy policy must include cutting-edge technologies, like solar, in order to effectively conserve American resources, create jobs, and achieve American energy security and diversity. SEIA commends Rep. Reed for his leadership and is proud to present him with this well-deserved Solar Champion Award.

Rep. Mike Thompson has long been a friend and ally of the solar energy industry. Rep. Thompson was an architect of the 8-year extension of the ITC in 2008 that resulted in tens of thousands of new American jobs. Most recently, he was the lead sponsor of the legislation in the 114th Congress (H.R. 2412) that served as the model for the ITC extension that was enacted in 2015. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Thompson has been an invaluable advocate for the solar industry and is well-deserving of this prestigious Solar Champion Award.



About SEIA®:

Celebrating its 42nd anniversary in 2016, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to champion the use of clean, affordable solar in America by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at

Media Contact:

Alex Hobson, SEIA Senior Communications Manager, (202) 556-2886