San Francisco – California [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Solar industry luminaries gathered in San Francisco to kick off Solar Power 2004, the largest business-to-business and business-to-consumer solar expo and conference ever held in the United States.Joining them were hundreds of renewable energy industry leaders, utility representatives, executives, policymakers, builders, architects, engineers, academics, and solar enthusiasts. The conference, presented by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), brings together the world’s foremost solar industry leaders, as well as energy end-users and policymakers from state, local, and federal government. The event runs through October 21 at the Hyatt Regency and One Market Street buildings in San Francisco; a comprehensive conference agenda tackles a wide range of policy, technology, and financing issues. “As part of our city’s commitment to being ‘First in Solar,’ we are thrilled to welcome the Solar Power 2004 conference,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who will deliver the welcoming address to conference attendees on Tuesday. “San Francisco is a leader in the use of clean and renewable energy sources – solutions that make sense for both the environment and the economy. We are proud to join with the conference presenters in promoting the development and realization of technologies that can provide clean air for our communities, protect the environment, and help secure a sustainable, secure and independent energy future for our nation.” Joining Mayor Newsom in the opening session will be keynote speakers Gordon Smith, President of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and Takashi Tomita, Corporate Director and Group General Manager, Sharp Corporation, Solar Systems Group. Commercial activities at the conference center on the two sold-out exposition halls. Among the sixty exhibitors and more than 850 pre-registered attendees are the world’s largest solar energy companies and utilities active in solar projects – including the conference co-hosts, Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Dozens of exciting announcements are to be made at the event this week, including the release of new, innovative products and major partnerships between solar companies and large international corporations. The Solar Power 2004 exposition is open to the public, and admission is free. Conference organizers anticipate thousands of residential and commercial consumers to visit the two expo halls. California represents the third largest market for PV in the world, with solar industry commerce in the state worth $300 million and growing. One highlight slated for Tuesday, October 19th at 11:30am is the “California Solar Policy Panel,” comprised of six influential California policymakers: Michael Peevey, President, California Public Utilities Commission; John Geesman, Commissioner, California Energy Commission; Byron Sher, Senator, State of California; Kevin Murray, Senator, State of California; Mark Leno, Assemblyman, State of California; and Drew Bohan, Assistant Secretary, California Environmental Protection Agency. Also of note is the “Celebrating the Solar State” Reception and Gala Dinner on Wednesday evening, October 20th with Master of Ceremonies Ed Begley, Jr., a keynote address from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (invited) and a presentation by Terry Tamminen, Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency. “San Francisco is the perfect place to stage this conference and expo,” said Edward Smeloff, conference co-chair and assistant general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. “As the leading solar city in the leading solar state, San Francisco is at the center of one of the world’s biggest solar markets. This conference offers a great venue for conducting business and meeting a who’s who of the solar energy and utility industries.” For more information about Solar Power 2004, visit the link below.