A group of 10 conservative groups are lobbying the White House to make sure President Trump rejects a proposal to place tariffs on solar panel imports. “If trade restrictions are imposed, the cost of solar products in the United States could double, endangering tens of thousands of good-paying domestic jobs within the solar industry,” the conservative groups said in a letter sent to the president Thursday night. The tariffs “would amount to nothing more than a crony capitalist giveaway to failing foreign-owned companies,” the letter said. “They would be paid for by crippling an otherwise growing domestic solar industry (one whose preferential federal tax treatment has been correspondingly phasing down) and higher prices for energy consumers.”
Starting as a niche energy industry less than a decade ago, the U.S. solar sector has grown to about 40 manufacturing plants, over 9,000 installation companies and 260,000 employees, according to the Solar Energy Industries Assn., the industry’s major trade group in Washington. Last year, utility-scale solar stations produced 37% of new electrical generating capacity in the U.S., more than any other source of electricity, according to the Energy Information Administration, an Energy Department data group. The number of rooftop solar installations increased almost 20%. Solar firms added 14.7 gigawatts of new U.S. generating capacity in 2016, about the same amount as 15 big coal-fired generating stations. Only China added more.
The International Trade Commission in September ruled in favor of two financially troubled U.S. solar-panel makers—Suniva and Solar World—that claim they’ve been injured by imports. This week the ITC will issue its “remedy recommendations” for President Trump, but nothing in the law says it must recommend tariffs on the most basic components of solar power. Suniva and Solar World want a 25-cent per-watt tariff on imported photovoltaic cells and a 32-cent per watt tariff on modules. Suniva also wants a floor price on all imported solar products, and Solar World wants import quotas on top of which the tariff would spike. The companies claim import protection will drive demand for U.S.-made panels and create jobs. Not likely. The future of U.S. solar is in installation and innovation, not making basic components. Growing solar jobs—now at 260,000—in the U.S. depends on demand for solar power, which in turn depends on the price competitiveness of electricity produced from the sun.
As the solar sector awaits a vote from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and a final decision by President Donald Trump in a high-profile solar trade case, a new report from GTM Research illustrates the potential harm tariffs could do to the rapidly growing industry. According to the report, utility-scale solar is the most vulnerable to any tariffs, quotas or floor price, and the potential harm to the domestic market could linger well after their expiration date in 2022.
Major US businesses and members of the Ceres BICEP Network have this week added their voices to the many already hoping the US International Trade Commission will reconsider imposing a solar tariff following the ruling in the Suniva and SolarWorld Section 201 solar trade case. In a letter sent to the International Trade Commission (ITC) on Thursday, over 40 businesses and members of Ceres BICEP Network — including big names like eBay, IKEA, L’Oreal, Mars, and Starbucks — called on the ITC to reconsider its recommendation that tariffs or trade restrictions should be imposed on imported solar products, highlighting the potential impacts on US businesses and homeowners.
There are more than 7,000 North Carolina residents working in the solar industry and 340,000 North Carolina homes powered by solar. Consumers pay less for energy and with the solar industry growing 15 times faster than the national economy, solar is proving to be a crucial state industry. But American workers and businesses could be in jeopardy unless our leaders continue to fight for Americans working in the solar industry. Two companies are threatening to stop the growth in American solar power. According to multiple news outlets, a New York City hedge-fund controlled company called Suniva and a German-owned company called SolarWorld are lobbying the U.S. government to halt solar imports. They are demanding compensation for failing in the U.S. marketplace.
A coalition of U.S.-based solar manufacturers, U.S. Made Solar, is running TV advertisements urging President Trump to not issue tariffs on cheap solar imports. The TV ad buy component is part of a seven figure ad buy.
Why it matters: The campaign appeals straight to Trump’s eyes and ears with ads running on shows he’s known to watch closely, such as Fox & Friends. It also focuses on one of Trump’s favorite rallying cries, American jobs.
With the administration of President Donald Trump moving to bail out coal plants and slap tariffs on solar imports, the renewable-energy industry is turning to a secret weapon for help: conservatives who actually support clean energy. The wind and solar industry sponsored a conservative conference on clean energy in Washington, hoping to tailor their message for the Trump administration. Job creation, traditional values and American energy independence replaced worries about climate change and global warming.
Executives from eight solar manufacturing companies gathered in Washington, D.C. Wednesday to convince federal officials that tariffs would wipe out tens of thousands of industry jobs. With any luck, they say, the message will be heard by a president who holds the future of U.S. solar in his hands. The day of lobbying was organized by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in response to an evolving trade case launched by Suniva and SolarWorld. U.S. trade commissioners ruled last month that imported solar equipment has caused “serious injury” to domestic manufacturers, validating the companies’ claims that cheap imports from Asia have made it impossible for them to compete.
The health of New Mexico’s solar industry could be impacted by whether U.S. solar panel manufacturers Suniva and Solar World succeed in imposing tariffs on imported solar cells and panels.