Utilities: Solar Trade Protections Do More Harm Than Good

Greentech Media

9/20/17

Over the past several years, utilities and public power producers have increasingly diversified their portfolios for a variety of strategic reasons in a dynamic that echoes the U.S. government’s own “all of the above” energy strategy. Diversity in generation sources can enhance energy security, reliability and consumer protection, and it can improve the environmental profile of the fleet.

As part of the effort to diversify, many power companies have developed solar projects or have purchased solar-generated power, or both. As a rule, power companies plan on a 20-year cycle and depend on predictable cost structures, particularly for their solar projects.

The strategic assessments of renewable projects are based, in part, on the continued viability of the US solar industry -- a prospect that has looked increasingly sound over the past several years as U.S. solar has experienced tremendous growth. Solar today employs over 260,000 American workers, and was responsible for 1 out of every 50 new jobs created in the U.S. in 2016. Most importantly, solar is increasingly cost-competitive with wind and even natural gas. This achievement is not just good for solar; it’s a welcome development for our nation’s energy security as a whole.

Yet the imposition of trade remedies on solar technology sought by the two petitioners in this case, Suniva and SolarWorld, could fundamentally change those carefully calibrated assessments of grid stability -- and do so without any consequent societal benefits.

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