Solar proponents warning jobs will be lost if import fee is imposed
Solar proponents are warning jobs will be lost and the industry will see a major setback if President Donald Trump imposes an import fee on solar panels. The U-S International Trade Commission is scheduled to send its recommendation to the President on Monday for a 35-percent tax on solar panels imported from other countries. There’s no question that low-price imports from China have undercut the ability of some U-S manufacturers to compete. But Garrett Garner-Wells with Colorado’s Environment Research and Policy Center says the tariff would make renewable-energy options less affordable for consumers. Several companies across the nation have said they’ve put solar projects on indefinite hold or even eliminated them, awaiting the President’s decision on tariffs. It is expected in the next 60 days. As the Trump administration works to revive the coal industry, it has blasted renewable energy as expensive and dependent on government subsidies. Garner-Wells says the group Environment America has identified 20 fossil-fuel-backed groups and electric utilities running campaigns to slow the growth of solar energy, because increased profit for one industry eventually means lower profits for another. American manufacturers of solar equipment may have suffered from cheap imports, but Garner-Wells notes those imports have also created thousands of jobs for retailers and installation contractors. It’s estimated that tariffs could increase the cost of a residential solar system by two-thousand dollars, and he predicts the anti-solar forces won’t be giving up soon. The solar industry in the U-S employs about 260-thousand people. One estimate is that a 35-percent tariff would shed about 88-thousand of those jobs.
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