A reoccurring topic in the news over the past few months centers around a proposal put forth by two bankrupt foreign-owned solar manufacturing companies to impose steep trade restrictions (think tariffs and price floors) on imported solar panels. These companies are attempting to use Section 201, an obscure section of the Trade Act of 1974, to erect barriers against imported solar panels.
In short, a steep import tariff on solar panels would eliminate far more U.S. jobs than it might create. Steep tariffs will also significantly decrease the affordability of solar energy to Americans.
Consider this: the solar industry created one out of every 50 new jobs in the U.S. in 2016. It is growing almost 17 times faster than the national economy, making it the fastest-growing industry in the country. And many of these jobs, from installation to sales to service, can never be outsourced. This success is owed to the steep drop in the cost of solar panels, which are 70 percent less expensive today than they were in 2010. The rise of the solar industry in the U.S. is made possible by the increasing affordability of solar panels imported from other countries.
If the average U.S. household is suddenly priced out of the solar industry—which may well happen if American solar companies are forced to pay unfair prices for solar panels—tens of thousands of American jobs will be at risk. In fact, Dr. Thomas Prusa, chair of the economics department at Rutgers University, found that the proposed trade penalties could kill 64 U.S. solar jobs for every ONE solar panel manufacturing job created. That’s far too high a price to pay to bailout these two bankrupt companies.
Aside from the damage steep solar tariffs would have on U.S. workers, imposing significant trade restrictions on the solar industry would also steer the nation away from what Americans want: more energy from solar. Nearly nine in 10 Americans are in favor of expanding solar power – no other energy source has such strong public support!
When you step back and look at the big picture, it’s clear that heavy-handed trade restrictions are not in the best interest of our economy. President Trump has until January 26, 2018 to make a decision in the case.
If you’re one of the nine in 10 Americans who recognize the benefits of solar and you’re also concerned about the pending trade case, contact your representatives today and let them know.