President Trump’s tariffs on solar panels from foreign countries is likely to hurt American workers and consumers, including many in North Carolina. He should reverse his decision.
The Trump administration announced last week that it would impose steep tariffs on imported solar panels, starting at 30 percent next year and ultimately falling to 15 percent by the fourth year, The New York Times reported. But while the panels may be imported, most of the rest of the mechanics and infrastructure used in solar energy production is made in the U.S. Tariffs would likely raise the cost of solar power and slow what has been rapid development in the solar energy industry. It also would result in the loss of roughly 23,000 jobs in the solar industry this year, as well as the delay or cancellation of billions of dollars of investments, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Many of those jobs would be lost in North Carolina, where solar farms now generate income where textile factories and tobacco farms once did. The industry now powers more than 400,000 homes and employs around 7,000 people, WRAL reported recently.
“The state ranks as high as second in solar power production (behind California),” WRAL reported, noting Duke Energy’s investment in solar.
The tariffs are aimed at countries like Malaysia and South Korea that produce the inexpensive panels our industry uses. Trump wants to encourage solar-panel manufacturing in the U.S.
But “Energy experts say it is unlikely that the tariffs will create more than a small number of American solar manufacturing jobs, since low-wage countries will continue to have a competitive edge,” the Times reported.
Environmentalists have complained about the decision, as have representatives of conservative organizations, including the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council, The Washington Post reported. They see the heavy hand of government playing favorites and obstructing the free market.
Solar has proved itself. Its cost is now close to par with other energy sources.
The tariff will make it more expensive for consumers and cost jobs. It’s a step backward for an industry that has made solid gains and stands to make more.