Trump approves tariffs on imported solar cells, modules

By Jody Gill, the Hugo Observer

The announcement comes after the International Trade Commission's ruling in September that the companies SolarWorld AG and Suniva couldn't compete with cheap solar panel imports.

The solar tariff is lower than requested by the original petitioners in the case, Suniva and SolarWorld. "Which is hard and challenging when you already have been working so hard to reduce costs on every aspect of the installation process", said Jeanine Cotter, member of the California Solar Energy Industries Association. "Right now I think we have about 20 to 25 slots left for residential customers to sign up and avoid the tariffs".

According to SEIA, the tariffs could lead to the loss of approximately 23,000 this year and delay or cancel substantial amounts of investments in solar. Each year, the first 2.5 gigawatts of solar cells imported into the country will be exempt from the tariffs.

The move is in line with President Donald Trump's "America First" trade policy, which aims to protect local manufacturers from foreign competition.

"Although we are now building the largest solar cell and module manufacturing plant in the U.S., we still oppose the petition", Tesla told Axios. The tariffs on solar products last four years starting at 30 percent, falling to 15 percent in the fourth year.

The outlook for overseas expansion by Chinese solar companies is not optimistic due to frequent trade disputes, the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) warned in a statement on Tuesday.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said: "The President's action makes clear again that the Trump Administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses in this regard". The group says there are more in installing solar panels, maintenance and building related components than in the actual manufacture of solar panels, and it is these jobs that will be deeply impacted.

This is the first major unilateral tariff decision made by the president, and signals a more aggressive approach toward Chinese trade practices. This tariff is a tax on every consumer who wants to buy a washing machine.

In the US, an association representing solar installers said the solar panel tariff will lead to the delay or cancellation of billions of dollars of investment in solar energy.