Solar-panel tariffs: ‘Bad policy’

The world’s biggest solar panel manufacturers were expecting a bigger blow than the 30 percent tariff President Donald Trump slapped on US imports.

The decision this week by president Trump to impose a 30 percent tariff on solar panel imports has been met with mixed reactions in Georgia.

About 70 percent of Patel’s business is made up of foreign-made solar cells assembled in Riverside that would not be impacted by the tariff.

Washing machines will also face levies.

According to the trade action, the percentage in tariffs will be declining each year until the tariffs are phased out on the fourth year. “The good news is solar is coming down in price over the years, so hopefully in another year, another couple months, the market will kind of get back to where it was before the tariff” said Butler. Manufacturers had already been pricing accordingly, fearful a tariff would be retroactive.

“Essentially, this has a meaningful but not destructive impact on solar installations, and at the same time it’s not exceptionally encouraging for domestic solar cell and module manufacturing”, said MJ Shiao, head of Americas research for GTM Research. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in reports to Congress.

Seoul has asked for bilateral discussions with Washington over safeguard measures ordered against South Korean washing machines.

In 2016, the USA imported solar cells and panels worth $8.3 billion, with South Korea exporting $1.3 billion in solar cells, becoming the third largest exporter after Malaysia and China, according to government data.

When the USA government imposed import duties, numerous Chinese producers set up operations in third countries, largely in Southeast Asia, to circumvent the duties. “We also want to thank our passionate, hard-working employees for producing the highest quality, most innovative washing machines in the world”. Solar system sales past year were about the same as they were in 2016, Knutsen said. The renewable energy economy has been taking root in Charlottesville. Ulbrich continues to be a global leader in solar ribbon and wire technologies. Large utility solar “farms” owned by companies like Georgia Power have acres and acres of panels planted like crops on the ground to generate electricity. Out of this group, only 38,000 work in manufacturing. LG Electronics USA noted Tuesday that its new plant to make washers in Clarksville, Tenn., will be “the most advanced factory in the world” but warned that the tariff “hinders the ramp-up of the new plant and threatens many new U.S.jobs”.

Producers are only one side of the equation.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., who supported solar energy when he served in the state legislature, said solar will play an important role in energy independence in the U.S. But he wasn’t ready to praise or condemn the tariff.

Goldman Sachs analyst Samuel Eisner wrote Tuesday that consumers can expect price increases for new machines of 8 percent to 20 percent depending on how much of the tariff the manufacturers decide to eat.

“Georgia could lose up to 2,000 full-time equivalent solar jobs”, Moreland said.

The senator of Arizona, a big solar power producing state, apparently reflected skepticism on the US solar power industry. Only in government does the agency that is recommending the tariffs also estimate that in aggregate Americans would be better off without import restrictions.

Georgia’s solar advocates and installers are giving mixed reviews to a new tariff on solar panels.

In addition, other countries will likely respond to US tariffs by imposing new or higher restrictions of their own. The country is the biggest buyer of US soybeans, and could consider steps to reduce imports. REC Silicon can out-compete our foreign rivals and we can do it from our manufacturing locations here in the United States.

Now, a type of trade case reserved for extraordinary problems awaits a decision by President Trump.

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