President Approves 30% Solar Tariffs

US Solar Trade Case and American Workers

Tariff on Solar Announced

The President of the United States approved a 30% solar tariff, in a multi-year tiered fashion.  The first year there will be a 30% tariff levied on imported solar cells and modules, 25% in the second year, 20% in year three and 15% in year four.  Though the details are not entirely clear, this scenario plays out close to what the solar industry expected as a near t0 worst case scenario.  (The companies in the section 201 Trade Case wanted a higher tariff.)  The decision by the administration was made behind the guise of defending American workers.  The U.S. solar industry fully supports American workers and the jobs solar creates and sustains.  According to the SEIA, there were 38,000 jobs in solar manufacturing alone in 2016, out of those ALL but 2,000 of those made something other than panels or cells.  Keep in mind, the tariffs just imposed are on panels and cells.  Racking, tracking systems and high-tech inverters are other examples of manufacturing jobs that rely on solar installation investments in the U.S.!  The SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) is the national trade association for the solar energy industry and released this statement regarding the decision. 

According to the SEIA, as of 2018, the solar industry employs 260,000 Americans.  That is more jobs than the coal industry (by a long shot), in case you are counting.    So why are these tariffs being imposed on one of, if not THE fastest growing industry in the U.S., and one of the most important in the world?  We’ll let you have a crack at answering that one.  The facts are in though, and this is a disappointing development.  We will follow up with another question, what does it mean for the solar industry in the U.S.?  Demand is demand, the solar industry is strong, and people want renewable energy.  Keep reading for our thoughts on that question…

North Carolina Solar News

There is a lot to talk regarding solar in the North Carolina market.  North Carolina, currently the number two state (next to California) in installed solar, received some great news yesterday.  Duke Energy announced the Duke Energy Solar Rebate Program, available to Duke Energy customers in North Carolina and potentially a big impact for people considering solar.  North Carolina residents can save up to $6,000, businesses can save up to $50,000 and nonprofits can save up to $75,000.  Once again, this is great news, and something customers can really take advantage of, especially in light of the tariff news that also came out yesterday. 

What The Tariffs Mean For You

If you are a Duke Energy customer, the rebate is a great deal, and the rebate will offset increases on solar panel prices.  The news of the section 201 Trade Case and the possibility of, or really the certainty of a tariff, given the administration’s stance on renewable energy, has been anticipated by the market to some point.  The inventory of panels manufactured without a tariff, and the installation companies buying up these panels at a lower cost, drove demand for the solar panels that were available to purchase.  This created a shortage.  Yes Solar Solutions was able to weather the storm given our relationships with suppliers, and manage a competitive price for premium panels to provide for our customers.  Regardless, where we stand today, the demand experienced throughout the year drove prices of panels up.  Now with the solar tariffs announced, where the pricing will go from here is uncertain, but we are confident we will continue to be able to show customers the value of going solar, together with the energy savings and the environmental benefits.

What The Tariffs Mean For The Industry

That leads us back to our earlier question, what does it mean for the solar industry?  Does the tariff really even matter?  Yes, of course it does.  It is a step back, it is set to impact many hardworking Americans and is done under the construct of doing good for those very same hard working Americans.  The economics of it will, realistically, put both small and large installers in danger of losing business, there will likely be a reduced investment in utility-scale solar, which will lower the demand and production of panels to a point, and increase production costs per panel.  Business strategies will also likely shift.  We will be here to navigate a path to supporting solar investment and installations for homes, businesses and nonprofits. 

What this tariff will not do is reduce the enthusiasm for renewable energy and solar,  and here is an example of why:  Your morning coffee can be brewed with coffee beans roasted by solar power roasting facilities, your beverages can come from a fridge powered by solar, stocked with, for example, beer produced by solar powered breweries.  A wide spectrum of manufacturers use solar energy to create their goods, and warehouses use solar energy to condition space, store goods and ship out packages.  Electric vehicles transport people and goods, and battery storage technology is catching up with demand.  The point is, we are already immersed in a world that revolves around solar energy and relies on renewable energy for national security, investment opportunities, the economy (jobs) and the environment.  With so many seeing the benefits of solar on their homes, businesses and nonprofits, people realize the power of energy independence.  Along with this independence and energy savings is the impact renewable energy has on the environment.  The benefits of solar and renewable energy are no longer thought of as simply “nice to have” but a necessity for clean water, breathable air and sustaining life on this planet. 

The current administration made a poor decision for American workers, for the economy and for the environment.  That said, solar and renewable energy are here to stay and tariffs will not stop its growth.  Yes Solar Solutions remains committed to the customer, to each other and to the environment, and to providing the highest quality, most efficient solar energy systems and solutions for the people.



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