Quantcast

Fate of U.S. Solar Industry in Trump's Hands After ITC Ruling

Popular
U.S. Army Environmental Command/Flickr

The fate of the U.S. solar industry now lies in President Trump's hands after the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled Friday that two bankrupt solar companies, Georgia-based Suniva and Oregon-based SolarWorld, were harmed economically by cheap imports of panels and cells.

According to POLITICO, Trump is likely to impose tariffs on foreign solar panels to advance his "America First" agenda, to help revive the ailing coal sector and to penalize Chinese solar manufacturers.


The domestic solar industry has skyrocketed in recent years thanks to imported panels mostly from China and other parts of Asia. Consequently, the solar industry warns that a tariff could threaten tens of thousands of U.S. jobs (solar accounted for 1 in 50 new jobs in 2016), drive up prices and cause the number of system installations to plummet.

"Analysts say Suniva's remedy proposal will double the price of solar, destroy two-thirds of demand, erode billions of dollars in investment and unnecessarily force 88,000 Americans to lose their jobs in 2018," Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association said.

"Foreign-owned companies that brought business failures on themselves are attempting to exploit American trade laws to gain a bailout for their bad investments," Hopper said about Suniva, whose majority owner is in China, and SolarWorld Americas, a subsidiary of Germany's SolarWorld.

A bipartisan group of governors from Nevada, Colorado, Massachusetts and North Carolina also spoke against the levy.

"The requested tariff could inflict a devastating blow on our states' solar industries and lead to unprecedented job loss, at steep cost to our states' economies," they wrote in a letter.

"At a time when our citizens are demanding more clean energy, the tariff could cause America to lose out on 47 gigawatts of solar installations, representing billions of dollars of infrastructure investment in our states."

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, issued a similar statement.

"This decision gives President Trump and his fossil fuel allies a blank check to crush the solar revolution that we are experiencing in the United States," he said. "The surge in wind and solar deployment that is happening across the United States is the greatest force for blue-collar job creation in a generation. But with the solar tax credits expiring in four years, we must do everything we can to support the growth of solar investments and installations and the tens of thousands of jobs that come with them. President Trump should not use this decision as an excuse to kill the solar industry under the guise of domestic manufacturing."

Furthermore, Trump's decision could cost affect the American taxpayer, as Bloomberg reported:

"The U.S. offers incentives to encourage people to use clean energy, paying owners of solar-power systems a tax credit equal to 30 percent of the total installation costs. More expensive panels leads to higher costs, and that means taxpayers could be on the hook for about $1.23 billion more, according to an estimate from Cowen & Co. analyst Jeffrey Osborne."

Even the conservative Heritage Foundation is against solar tariffs.

"The tariffs requested by Suniva and SolarWorld will make solar products and services in America more expensive and less competitive by removing inexpensive, often imported choices from other solar companies and their customers," Heritage trade policy analyst Katie Tubb wrote.

Trump, who has vowed to protect U.S. manufacturers from "unfair" imports, has not given a firm decision on the matter following the ITC's 4-0 vote last week.

"The President will examine the facts and make a determination that reflects the best interests of the United States," White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom said in a statement. "The U.S. solar manufacturing sector contributes to our energy security and economic prosperity."

Suniva praised the ITC's vote and called on the president to implement a tariff that "prevents China and its proxies from owning the sun."

The ITC will now develop a course of action to recommend to Trump by Nov. 13.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Arx0nt / Moment / Getty Images

By Taylor Jones, RD

Oats are a highly nutritious grain with many health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

Get ready to toast bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. National Pollinator Week is June 17-23 and it's a perfect time to celebrate the birds, bugs and lizards that are so essential to the crops we grow, the flowers we smell, and the plants that produce the air we breathe.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Alexander Spatari / Moment / Getty Images

It seems like every day a new diet is declared the healthiest — paleo, ketogenic, Atkins, to name a few — while government agencies regularly release their own recommended dietary guidelines. But there may not be an ideal one-size-fits-all diet, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Logging shown as part of a thinning and restoration effort in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon on Oct. 22, 2014. Oregon Department of Forestry / CC BY 2.0

The U.S Forest Service unveiled a new plan to skirt a major environmental law that requires extensive review for new logging, road building, and mining projects on its nearly 200 million acres of public land. The proposal set off alarm bells for environmental groups, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Maskot / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to wonder which foods are healthiest.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Homes in Washington, DC's Brookland neighborhood were condemned to clear room for a highway in the 1960s. The community fought back. Brig Cabe / DC Public Library

By Teju Adisa-Farrar & Raul Garcia

In the summer of 1969 a banner hung over a set of condemned homes in what was then the predominantly black and brown Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. It read, "White man's roads through black men's homes."

Earlier in the year, the District attempted to condemn the houses to make space for a proposed freeway. The plans proposed a 10-lane freeway, a behemoth of a project that would divide the nation's capital end-to-end and sever iconic Black neighborhoods like Shaw and the U Street Corridor from the rest of the city.

Read More Show Less
Demonstrators outside a Republican presidential debate in Detroit in 2016. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Michigan prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against government officials involved in the Flint water crisis Thursday, citing concerns about the investigation they had inherited from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) appointed by former Attorney General Bill Schuette, CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Samara Heisz / iStock / Getty Images

New York state has joined California, West Virginia, Arizona, Mississippi and Maine in ending religious exemptions for parents who prefer not to vaccinate their children, The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less