Last month, President Donald Trump stated that he would impose tariffs on imported solar-energy components and large washing machines in an effort to help U.S. manufacturers. The Trump administration has already imposed a tariff of 30 percent on most imported solar modules. The tariff rate will decline before eventually being phased out after four years. The tariff rate for large residential washing machines will start at 50 percent and be phased out after three years.
The news about the tariffs seems to have split the U.S. solar industry over the issue. Two small subsidiaries of foreign companies that made solar cells in the U.S. seem to favor the tariffs. However, a good number of companies that install solar-power systems believe their costs will rise and jobs could be lost. Abigail Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, stated,
What I find the most upsetting is that a lot of folks who are likely to lose their jobs are construction workers, engineers, electricians — people who get up everyday, put on a hard hat, and build power plants. They just happen to be solar power.
California is the leader in clean energy, so the tariffs might have a large impact on the state. Shayle Kann, who researches clean technology for GTM Research, believes that big solar farms will be hit harder by the tariffs than rooftop arrays, because a larger portion of their cost is the panels themselves. California’s policies require that the state get half of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, which mean there will still be demand for large solar projects. However, California might be paying more for solar projects. Hopefully, the state can find a way to help the solar industry if it does run into any issues.