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There Goes The Sun (And Jobs)! Trump Puts 30% Tariffs On Solar Panels

1/22/2018

President Trump yesterday imposed a 30% tariff on imported crystalline-silicon solar cells and modules,  ignoring the industry’s request for a more thoughtful import licensing fee approach.

Trump tried to strike a balance between punishing China for importing low-cost solar panels and modules into the U.S. and trying to protect the domestic solar industry from massive job losses. Unfortunately, his approach will probably have the exact opposite effect.

Trump’s plan may place nearly one-third of the industry’s 260,000 employees at risk.  There were 38,000 solar manufacturing jobs in the U.S. prior to this decision, only 2,000 of which made cells and panels. The other 36,000 who manufacture “metal racking systems, high-tech inverters, machines that improved solar panel output by tracking the sun and other electrical products” which may now be at risk.  Other job cuts could come from installers, who may also take huge hits as the price of solar may become economically unattractive.

The President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, Abigail Ross Hopper, predicted the tariffs will lead to the loss of roughly 23,000 American jobs this year.  As a comparison, there are approximately 50,000 total jobs in the coal industry.  Trump is willing to risk the equivalent of almost half of all the coal industry jobs by implementing these tariffs.

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