Op-ed: Solar tariffs won’t put the American worker first


One of President Donald Trump’s first major trade decisions will have lasting ramifications for the solar industry in this country. The case, brought forward by two foreign-owned solar panel manufacturers, proposes the United States impose substantial import tariffs on solar panels in order to bolster the competitiveness of American solar panel manufacturing. As a staunch supporter of domestic manufacturing who wants to put “America First,” it seems like an easy choice for the president. But the issue is not as cut and dried as it seems and is fraught with unintended consequences.

As a lifelong Republican, I, like the president, believe in the power of the free market and supporting U.S. job growth. Of equal importance, I also side with the 90 percent of Americans who support more development of solar in the U.S., not less. This is why my company has worked tirelessly to create over 4,000 well-paying U.S.-based jobs across 21 states over the past six years so that we can enable homeowners to go green and save money at the same time. It is also why we, one of the largest residential solar providers in the country, and almost every other solar company source our solar panels from overseas. We need affordable panels to compete with other methods of energy generation and to be able to offer rooftop solar to Americans at an affordable price point.

Taking advantage of the highly competitive free market has enabled the solar industry to drive tremendous innovation, consumer adoption and job growth. Solar is growing nearly 17 times faster than the U.S. economy and created one out of every 50 new jobs in the U.S. in 2016. Over 260,000 American workers now belong to this booming industry across the entire production chain — including 38,000 who manufacture hardware, inverters and other critical solar components stateside. The solar industry has been one of the leading economic growth engines in the entire country, bringing well-paying jobs to help fulfill the aspiration of almost every American for the country to embrace solar energy.

The declining cost of installing solar has helped spur this economic engine, with costs dropping by more than 70 percent since 2010. The two foreign-owned petitioners’ proposed tariffs would substantially increase the price of solar panels in the United States. If this were to happen, solar would become unattainable for the majority of Americans, which would significantly reduce demand and lead to devastating job losses across the country. Analysis from Dr. Thomas Prusa, chair of the economics department at Rutgers University, found that imposing these trade penalties could eliminate 64 solar jobs for every one solar panel manufacturing job created. Increasing the price of solar panels is not only bad for our economy, it is also contrary to the will of the American people.

Why should one of our economy’s top contributors be penalized for taking advantage of the free market? …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

      

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