President Donald Trump’s administration has announced the new rules as all as duties on Chinese-manufactured solar panels and washing machines to hike tariffs on imported solar panels by near about 30 percent. It will cost the U.S. thousands of jobs while striking a significant blow to the renewable energy sector. Some companies already responded to the tariffs, such as Whirlpool, which announced it would add 200 jobs. Some companies already responded to the tariffs, such as Whirlpool, which announced it would add 200 jobs.
But the higher cost of solar imports is expected to hurt American companies that design mounting systems and provide installation services, working adjacent to the panel production industry. The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates 23,000 American jobs will be lost this year as a result of the tariffs and that billions of dollars of renewable energy research and investment could be retooled or scrapped entirely.
“There’s no doubt this decision will hurt U.S. manufacturing, not help it,” Bill Vietas, president of RBI Solar in Cincinnati, said in a statement circulated by the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Government tariffs will increase the cost of solar and depress demand, which will reduce the orders we’re getting and cost manufacturing workers their jobs.”
Vietas was one of 27 industry executives who wrote to the U.S. International Trade Commission back in August asking that the government avoid tariffs that would force American companies to “cut our operations.”
“This is a bad day for the U.S.,” Costa Nicolaou, president and CEO of PanelClaw, said in a statement Monday, warning that the duties “will cause great economic pain for so many families in the solar sector.”
The tariffs come as the administration continues efforts to retool environmental regulations that have restricted the operations of oil drillers, coal miners and companies that rely on fossil fuels.
Earlier this month, for example, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced plans to significantly relax barriers to oil and gas drilling off American coastlines. And Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate pact last year represented one of his first significant shakeups of standing U.S. agreements in place before he took office.
That has led some industry advocates to speculate that the administration had other motives for imposing the tariffs.
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