The Solar Industry in America has gone from having second class standing in the news media over the years to front page news lately. That’s because of President Trump placing his signature to legislation that will now impose a tariff on imported solar panels as part of his ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign. This campaign focuses on building up production and jobs within the United States. Needless to say it has had quite the ripple effect which will undoubtedly impact solar panel installation businesses, renewable energy gains and American consumers of solar panel products. 

It must be noted that the legislation signed by President Trump will not go into effect until the tariff is officially approved by the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). Early signs do point to the solar panel tariff receiving their approval. 

Those In Favor of the New Tariff on Imported Solar Panels 

In case you have not heard about this new tariff on imported solar panels we will tell you a little bit more about it. The main emphasis of this new tariff is placing a 30% tax on all imported solar panels. Of course these solar panels are the main components of any solar collector system.  

The legislation was pursued because American solar panel manufacturers said they were being gutted by the overwhelming flow of low cost imported solar panels coming into the country from mainly China and other parts of Asia.  

After the matter on the solar panels was studied further by the ITC they decided to support imposing the tariff on imported solar panels. As a result of that the solar panel tariff legislation quickly gained traction until it was formally signed by the president himself.  

The tariff starts out with a 30% tax on imported solar panels the first year only. It then gradually tapers down over its 4-year duration. The imported solar panel tax in the last year of the deal is only 15%.  

Advocates for this imported solar panel tariff state that with the unusually high demand for low cost, renewable solar energy by American consumers; the new level playing field in the solar panel industry will increase the demand for domestically produced solar panels. This will then result in more jobs in the domestic manufacturing sector too.  

Although the price of solar panels is likely to rise because of the new tariff on them, there is another big factor that some people are overlooking here too. That is solar panel sales have traditionally not always been tied to solar panel pricing. That’s because solar panel product installation offers long term energy bill savings which greatly offset their initial cost.  

Many people also install solar panel related products regardless of their price. This is because solar panel derived energy lessens dependency on fossil fuels, adds value to someone’s property and makes the world we all live in a little greener too. 

President Trump signing the trade action that imposes tariffs on imported solar panels. Mike Theiler-Pool/Getty 
President Trump signing the trade action that imposes tariffs on imported solar panels. Mike Theiler-Pool/Getty

 

Opinions of Those against this New Imported Solar Panel Tariff 

Of the presidents most outspoken critics are those that say this new tariff hits one of America’s fasting growing labor markets in a negative way. With the availability of lower cost solar panels to American suppliers, both residential and commercial solar panel installation companies and their support businesses have been booming. Critics say now that the price of solar panels will likely increase the result will be a slowdown and layoffs in the solar business sector. 

Here is what Tony Clifford, chief developmental officer of one of America’s largest solar panel installation companies, Standard Solar Installations, had to say on the matter: 

“It boggles my mind that this president – any president, really – would voluntarily choose to damage one of the fastest-growing segments of our economy.” 

Anti-tariff proponents say it could cost America some 23,000 jobs in solar panel related industries in the first year of the solar panel tariff alone. 

Advocates of America becoming less dependent on fossil fuels and more dependent on renewable energy sources are not happy either. That’s because most anticipate a slowdown in this industry now that the tariff is expected to make the price of solar panels go up in the short term. 

Perhaps the most surprising news out of all of this is the two biggest solar panel producers in the USA are foreign owned. One is a Chinese venture and the other is linked to German investors. It’s also said that both of these solar panel producing plants are largely automated and do not use a large human workforce during solar panel production. Anti-tariff critics question how this is going to benefit Americans in general. 

The Verdict on Solar panel Tariffs is In 

So there you have it. The opinions are in on whether the new tariff on solar panel imports will hurt the American solar panel industry or simply shift its focus from foreign solar panel sales increases to domestic solar panels sales increases. So far the majority opinion says it will hurt the American solar panel industry overall and slow down America’s progress towards using more renewable energy sources. The truth of the matter is only time will tell. It will be interesting to watch how these new tariffs actually impact the American solar panel industry over the next 1 to 2 years.  

 

 

Source 1: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/trumps-tax-on-solar-power-heres-what-you-need-to-know-w515823 

Source 2: http://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/370953-red-states-will-be-the-real-losers-from-trumps-solar-tariff 

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