Without a doubt one of the most controversial decisions that President Trump has made during his presidency was to impose tariffs over the next four years on imported solar panels. It was his first big legislation geared toward his promise to “make America great again”. It created a huge uproar in the United States and an even bigger one with America’s overseas trading partners who viewed it as more of an isolationist type policy. There are some recent signs though that indicates President Trump was on the right path in his thinking with the solar panel tariff.
There was a recent deal that came about between NextEra Energy, Florida Power & Light’s parent company, and a newly planned to be built Chinese run solar panel manufacturing plant in Florida. NextEra Energy has agreed with JinkoSolar Holding Company of Shanghai to order even more solar panels from them than was previously announced once the Chinese manufacturer starts production at the Florida plant.
A Brief Overview of the Solar Panel Tariff
In case you have not heard about the solar panel tariff that the Trump administration imposed or do not know much about the details of it, here is a brief overview of it. The tariff came about after a recommendation by the ITC (International Trade Commission). The ITC’s findings stated that the cheaper prices of imported solar panels were putting American solar panel manufacturers at a significant disadvantage. It was the perfect opportunity for President Trump to start showing the American people he was serious about stopping what he felt was unfair trade practices.
Under the tariff which was signed into law there would now be a tariff placed on imported solar panels over a 4-year period. Although it was not the legal maximum 50% tariff that American solar producers had hoped for it was still significant. Tariffs would now be imposed on solar panels over the 4-year period on a graduated basis. The first year of the tariff called for a 30% tax on imported solar panels and that scales down to 15% in the tariffs fourth and final year.
Doom and Gloom Predicted
There was a huge outcry from both politicians and solar panel derived energy supporters after President Trump announced they would go through with the solar panel tariffs. Politicians warned that it would severely damage one of America’s fastest growing industries (solar panel installations) because it would be legislation that would cause a significant rise in the cost of solar panels.
Experts warned that the solar panel tariff would backfire because it would cause as many as 25,000 layoffs in the solar panel installation energy. Politicians also warned that the solar panel tariff would stifle the growth America was just starting to experience in renewable solar panel generated energy.
More about NextEra’s And Jinkosolar Holding’s Solar Panel Agreement
In January of 2018 JinkoSolar Holding Company announced that it had reached a deal with an unnamed American company to distribute enough solar panels to them to generate over 1.7 gigawatts of electricity per year. The plan was to be realized over a 3-year period.
Well it turns out that NextEra Energy was that unnamed company. Now these two players have upped that initial agreement to include the delivery of enough solar panels to produce some 2.75 gigawatts of electricity. Analysts place that at roughly 7 million domestically produced solar panels that will be delivered over a 4-year period. That is certainly an eye-catching figure by any means.
Will It Quiet the Tariff Naysayers?
While it’s too soon to tell if President Trump’s solar panel tariff is a good or bad policy this certainly has to be an encouraging sign that not only bad things will come from it. One can only imagine the number of people the JinkoSolar Holding Company plant in Florida will eventually employ if orders this size keep coming in. The plant which is designed to produce millions of solar panels a year is already scheduled to hire several hundred workers once it’s opened.
If nothing else, news such as this whopping solar panel purchase should make those opposed to President Trump’s solar panel and other tariffs pause for a second before they talk negatively about them. They may just work and be exactly what America needs economically without impacting the solar industry in the country in a severely negative way.