Viewpoint: Don’t let trade tariffs halt the growing U.S. solar industry

Denver Business Journal

10/13/17

There are few industries more interwoven into American life than the electric power industry. In today's modern economy, nearly every aspect of our lives depends on electricity, whether it's powering cloud computing systems linking our businesses to offices around the world, or the center pivot irrigation systems our farmers rely on to put food on our tables.

Electric energy is a necessity.

As demand for electricity has increased, so too has our desire for electricity generated from cheap, clean and reliable sources, such as solar. Solar has recently become one of the cheapest power sources, keeping everyone's electricity bills low, including those who don't have solar. This low-cost, clean power puts more money in consumers' pockets, and improves our air quality.

Unfortunately, access to affordable solar is threatened, due to a proposal to levy massive tariffs on certain solar modules, the primary component in a finished solar panel. In September, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) found that imported solar modules are causing harm to domestic solar manufacturers. This decision stems from a petition brought to the ITC by a bankrupt U.S. solar manufacturer with a Chinese majority owner. The petition was later joined by another U.S. manufacturer (owned by a German company). 

Since the ITC determined that harm has been caused, they have until Nov. 13th to recommend a remedy to the president. The remedies proposed by the petitioners are extreme: Effectively doubling the price of solar by applying a tariff on all imported solar modules. Fear of these tariffs alone has led to a 20 percent price increase for solar panels in recent months and forced developers to procure and warehouse panels to hedge against future price increases. These current and proposed increases in solar prices hurt everyone with an electric bill - higher priced power and less clean energy.

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