By Andrew Restuccia - 01/03/12 06:59 PM EST
As part of the merger, SEIA is establishing a department for state affairs, which will include staff from the Solar Alliance. Solar Alliance President Carrie Cullen Hitt will become vice president for state affairs at SEIA.
“We have tremendous opportunities for opening markets for solar across all regions,” Hitt said in a statement. “With the Solar Alliance now a part of SEIA, we have the unified voice that is necessary on the policy front – both in Washington and in the states – to really take the U.S. solar industry to the next level.”
The Solar Alliance, which counts about three-dozen solar companies as members, works with state officials and policymakers to advocate for solar energy.
The merger comes at a time when the solar industry faces a number of challenges, including an uncertain regulatory environment and competition from countries such as China, which has invested billions in renewable energy.
At the same time, Republicans in Congress have criticized federal support for solar power in the wake of the failure of Solyndra, a California solar panel-maker that received a $535 million Obama administration loan guarantee in 2009.
But the industry says solar power could be a boon to the economy. For example, SEIA has said that a one-year extension of the Section 1603 Treasury Program, which gives solar developers the option to receive an up-front grant instead of a tax credit, could result in more than 37,000 new jobs. Extending the grant program will be a top priority for SEIA this year.