April 21, 2018

New solar panel tariffs will be felt by Arizona companies, consumers

25 January 2018, 01:30 | Yvette Williams

Trump imposes 30% tariff on solar panels

Workers secure solar panels to a rooftop during a Solar City Corp. residential installation in Albuquerque N.M

The Trump administration just struck a huge blow against the US solar industry, slapping tariffs on imported panels that could drive up the cost of new projects.

"We will work with the USA government to implement these remedies, including future negotiations, in the strongest way possible to benefit solar manufacturing and its thousands of American workers to ensure that USA solar manufacturing is world-class competitive for the long term".

The tariffs will allow 2.5GW of unassembled solar cells to be imported tariff-free in each year.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Heinrich testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission in opposition and sent a letter to the Trump administration about potential negative effects on American jobs.

"Today, China dominates the global supply chain and, by its own admission, is looking to increase its capacity to account for 70 percent of total planned global capacity expansions announced in the first half of 2017", the office said. "We don't have the infrastructure to make solar panels - that's why they are made overseas".

The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates the tariffs will eliminate some 23,000 jobs this year.

Another solar industry group, Vote Solar, claimed that in the solar energy hotbed of Nevada up to 8,000 workers stand to be impacted.

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The case for a tariff emerged from a complaint by two US -based companies that manufactured solar cells, the building blocks of solar panels: Suniva Inc., the Georgia-based subsidiary of a Chinese firm, which declared bankruptcy in April, and SolarWorld Americas, the USA subsidiary of a German company. And he says the 30 percent tariff on foreign panels will drive the cost up for consumers - convincing many not to buy them.

"These cases were filed by American businesses and thoroughly litigated at the International Trade Commission over a period of several months", said Ambassador Lighthizer.

The administration says the decision is part of Trump's pledge to put American companies and jobs first.

Kadish says the vast majority of people working in the solar industry are installing the panels. The four-year Solar Tariff becomes effective on February 7, 2018 and will start at 30% in Year 1 and ramp down by 5% annually. Other manufacturers from Asia voiced similar sentiments.

Most other USA solar companies, including SunPower Corp, which manufactures panels in Asia, and residential installer SunRun Inc. were opposed to the trade barrier - as were offshore manufacturers such as China's JinkoSolar, which will be among the biggest losers.

In 2016, 40 percent of the renewable energy generated in Arizona was solar, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. BNEF figures suggest the cost of solar modules could jump 10 cents to 43 cents per watt - a sizable increase. As prices plunged, almost 30 USA plants closed over the past five years, according to The Associated Press.

Other U.S. solar stocks were mixed. "I don't believe this decision will reverse the solar expansion in the U.S. The global solar industry will adjust".

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