US Solar Industry, Jobs Still at Risk Following International Trade Commission Decision

Statement by John Rogers, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Oct 31, 2017

WASHINGTON (October 31, 2017)—The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today issued three recommendations for how President Trump can restrict the imports of photovoltaic cells and modules. These materials are integral for the booming domestic solar industry. Today’s recommendations follow a USITC finding last month that the U.S.-based petitioners, Suniva and SolarWorld Americas, were being harmed by imports of competitors’ solar products. The four commissioners (two together, the two others individually) proposed three different remedies, involving quotas and tariffs. The commission will forward its recommendations on November 13 to President Trump, who will have the final say on what actions to take, if any.

 Below is a statement by John Rogers, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

 “It’s good that the trade commissioners’ recommendations aren’t as drastic as the petitioners sought in this case. Any remedy that involves major tariffs and quotas would fit right in with President Trump’s America-First-even-if-it’s-bad-policy approach. Limiting or slapping big tariffs on solar imports might marginally benefit U.S.-based solar manufacturers, but would hurt every other part of our homegrown solar industry: solar installers, salespeople, project developers, financiers, and even manufacturers of other solar system components.

 “If the president proceeds down the path of limiting our access to international solar products, a serious number of the 260,000 U.S. solar workers—and the many prospective solar customers that depend on them—will take the hit. ‘Little gain, lots of pain’ is a poor approach to economic development, and a bad reason to derail how solar power is contributing to the nation’s impressive clean energy growth.

 “President Trump is the decider on this, though. The right choice—saying no to high tariffs and low quotas—will let our solar industry as a whole keep growing, creating American jobs, strengthening our energy security, and benefitting millions of U.S. customers.”

 Please see Rogers’s blog on widespread opposition to the solar tariffs for more information.