A proposition currently being presented before the International Trade Commission has drawn widespread, bipartisan criticism from thousands of solar companies across the United States. At stake: a tariff on solar panels being imported into the United States. This opposition was on display recently at a hearing in Washington D.C., where hundreds of solar workers packed the meeting hall to show their opposition.
The tariff was proposed by two companies: Suniva and SolarWorld, who are seeking to limit the number of solar panels that are manufactured abroad and imported to the United States. The two claim that placing a tariff on panels manufactured abroad will actually create jobs in the United States by protecting the panel manufacturing industry.
However, Abigal Ross Hopper of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said the results will be anything but good for the exploding solar energy market in the country. “What was clear today is that two foreign-owned companies seeking U.S. government subsidies… We hope the ITC sees the petition for what it is, and doesn’t put the interests of two companies that made bad business decisions above those of American workers.” she told the SEIA website. Sunvia is actually majority-owned by a Chinese firm, and declared bankruptcy last April, arguing the lower costs of imported solar panels made it impossible for their American-produced products to compete.
Should these tariffs be accepted, the consequences could be far-reaching for the entire country, costing over 80,000 jobs across the nation, according to SEIA forecasts. In a June press release, the SEIA stated they expected that the state of California would lose a staggering 26 percent of its solar jobs in the next year alone should the tariffs are implemented. South Carolina stands to be one of the biggest losers in the country, losing an expected 7,000 jobs according to preliminary estimates.
The workers who packed the meeting were not alone. State legislators from across the country, including Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Virginia all attended the meeting and spoke out in opposition to the proposed tariffs. Likewise, a group of 69 members of Congress, including both Republican and Democratic representatives, submitted a letter to the ITC, urging the commission to request the tariff request.
Solar power has long been known to be an abundant source of renewable energy, but in recent years the cost of the technology to harvest this energy has dropped to the point where it’s now commercially viable, boosted by a number of great incentives on both state and federal levels. As a result, the solar industry is booming, and the SEIA now has more than 1,000 member companies. The solar industry is growing an estimated 17 times faster than every other commercial sector in the country, creating two percent of all new jobs for the entire economy just last year. The industry is estimated to have added more than 100,000 blue collar jobs in the economy over the last five years, and last year was perhaps the largest growth, with the entire industry increasing by 25 percent. As a result of the large influx of solar installations across the country, solar is now the number-one producer of new electricity in the country, toppling fossil fuels from the top spot for the first time.
The solar industry has also led to major economic booms in several states. North Carolina Representative Jason Saine even cited a $9 billion investment in the state over the last 10 years thanks to the emergence of affordable solar power. The jobs that have been created have helped everyone, particularly those in poorer counties.Call Sunstore Solar now at (864) 558-5143 to get a free solar quote and find out how much you could be saving on your electric bills by making the switch!
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