Tariffs on solar panels make no sense

President Trump has announced a steep 30 percent tariff on Chinese solar panels supposedly to protect U.S. businesses from cheap Chinese competition. (The tariff falls to 15 percent after four years.)

The remaining U.S. solar panel manufacturers are happy with the administration’s actions, but the rest of the country’s solar power industry is worried that higher prices will result in a fall in demand and a significant net loss of jobs As an article published today by The Guardian points out:

The Solar Energy Industries Association said 23,000 jobs would be lost in 2018, pointing out that most solar manufacturing in the US revolves around making parts for cheaper imported panels, rather than the cells and panels themselves.


“It boggles my mind that this president – any president, really – would voluntarily choose to damage one of the fastest-growing segments of our economy,” said Tony Clifford, chief development officer of Standard Solar, which finances and installs panels.

Bill Vietas, president of RBI Solar, which makes mounting systems for panels, added: “The US solar manufacturing sector has been growing as our industry has surged over the past five years.

“Government tariffs will increase the cost of solar and depress demand, which will reduce the orders we’re getting and cost manufacturing workers their jobs.”

If the goal was to help U.S. businesses and workers in the solar power industry, there’s a good chance the higher tariff will find up doing the opposite.

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