Solar Industry Warns Against Possible Trade Barriers

By Will Stone
Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 10:35am

A controversial effort to impose trade penalties on solar panels made overseas has many in the industry sounding the alarm. This comes as federal regulators start hearings in Washington D.C. on Tuesday to determine whether cheap imports are hurting United States manufacturing jobs.

“An existential threat" is how Abigail Hopper, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), describes the possible tariff on solar panel imports.

“If implemented it could double the price of solar panels and make solar less competitive with other energy sources. We think that would drive down demand,” Hopper said.

Shedding nearly 90,000 jobs - about a third of the growing industry - next year, Hopper said.

But those warnings don’t square with the two U.S. based manufacturers of panels responsible for the petition, Suniva and SolarWorld.

They argue a glut of cheap Asian panels has caused serious injury to domestic makers and that a tariff would actually grow more jobs at home.

While federal regulators will hear the case, the decision could ultimately end up with President Donald Trump who has promised to get tough on trade with China.

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