This spring Suniva, a Georgia-based solar panel manufacturer, filed for bankruptcy. As they did, they invoked an obscure law to issue a trade complaint with the International Trade Commission. Their complaint asks for additional tariffs on solar cells worth $0.40 per watt, and a base duty on solar panels of $0.78 per watt.
If approved solar prices will effectively double and drastically impact the economics that make going solar the incredible investment it is today. It’s a threat to solar industry growth and the major jobs creator it’s become (51,000 new solar jobs were added last year, now there are more than 260,000 employed industry wide)
And of great concern is who will decide. This particular complaint and related law empower the president to unilaterally impose broad tariffs if he believes foreign imports are hurting manufacturers domestically.
The ITC has until September 22nd to investigate the claim and send their recommendations to the White House. Whatever they conclude, experts agree this presents an opportunity for the president to score political points in some of his priority areas: claim he’s protecting US jobs, add international tariffs – to China in particular, and undermine one of the coal industry’s clean energy competitors. It doesn’t bode well that’s for sure.
Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of Solar Energy Industries Association, the solar industry’s primary trade group, said the case is an “existential threat” to the industry and could obliterate solar jobs.
The US solar industry has seen a major boom in the past few years, in part thanks to an overall drop in the price of solar panels. Last year the US solar market grew 95%, and accounted for $84 billion in economic activity. For the first time ever, solar ranked as the number 1 source of new electric capacity added.
So what can we do? Firstly, take action to protest this ill-advised petition by adding your name to Save America’s Solar Jobs.
And even more importantly, if you haven’t already, go solar. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, get a free solar quote. With an administration who just backed out of the Paris Climate Agreement and the potential that with the stroke of a pen the president could double the price of solar, it’s time to act. Fortunately, powering your home or business with clean power remains cheap and easy for now. There are compelling options ranging from panels on your roof, or buying them on a local community farm, all offering significant return on investment for decades of savings.