Environmental groups have been fearful about President Trumps take on the environment since the day he was sworn into office, and as a result employment in 2017 fell in the solar industry, due to tariff speculation from the Trump administration.
Tariffs are a tax on an imported good and the majority of the time they fail and end up driving up the costs of the product. The goal of a tariff is to help increase the countries job growth in that particular industry.
Trump hasn’t specifically targeted the solar industry; the tariffs that he’s proposed and initiated are also aimed at steel and other industries. One of the promises of Trump’s campaign was to bring jobs back to America, and he promised the tariffs long before he went into the office.
Earlier this year a solar trade group warned that over tens of thousands of jobs would be lost if the president went through on his tariff proposal on imported solar equipment.
Trump implemented the tariff in January, and since then the dire warnings that the tariff is a job killer don’t look to be as true as previously thought. Job growth is expected to grow in 2018. There are several reasons why the tariffs haven’t had the effect that they were expected to have from experts in the solar industry, one of the beliefs is that they are only expected to last four years and will gradually decline in the last three years.
A Washington-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance Ethan Zindler said, “We didn’t get the worst-case scenario, we got tariffs with various loopholes and funky ways around them.”
The industry is going to explain this week at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Summit in New York on how they manage tariffs.
The Solar Energy Industries Association is the industry group that forecasted 88,000 jobs would be lost or failed by the end of the year. Once Trump opted for four-year tariffs the projection declined, and the group revised its estimate to 23,000.
However, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that solar-photovoltaic installer will be the fastest growing occupation of the decade to 2026. This is estimate outpaces healthcare, information technology, and all other career tracks. According to the Labor of Statistics, this career is on track to outpace four times as much as oil and gas operators.
Solar Energy Industries Association President Abigail Ross Hopper said at BNEF’s summit Tuesday that, “The tariffs were more of a punch to the gut than a complete decapitation.”
Scott Cramer is the CEO of a small solar company called Go Solar Group in Utah, and he has an article in Solar Novus in which he explains the fear that he had when the tariffs were implemented.
In one paragraph he explains his position and why he still opposes the tariffs but understands why they aren’t affecting the industry at all, “Simply put, when major trade decisions that impact an entire industry are set forth by a select few and intended to benefit only a select few, the market will correct these small players’ mistakes, even if many fear the mistakes to be incorrigible. Once the tariff has ended, we will be able to laugh at the fear it once caused our industry in our turn.”