The Trump administration's tariffs on imported solar cells and panels are not only hindering the industry's growth but also hurting jobs and threatening clean energy goals, according to a state official and industry advocates.
While struggling with the impact for nearly two years, the booming solar industry in the US has been dealt a fresh blow: The Trump administration rescinded a tariff exclusion for bifacial solar panels last month after it was granted in June.
The solar panels are now subject to the current 25% tariffs. Early last year, the US government imposed 30% tariffs on foreign-made solar products. Those tariffs are set to decline by 5% each year through 2022.
Nevada State Treasurer Zach Conine is concerned that the uncertainty surrounding the tariffs has created challenges for the state's working families by threatening good-paying jobs. Many states across the country are facing similar uncertainties with respect to their top industries, he said.
"Green Energy and the development of more sustainable technologies are on the rise here in Nevada. Our state currently leads the nation in solar power potential. It has installed more than 3,500 megawatts of solar power," said Conine.
In April, Nevada became the fourth US state to commit to 100% clean energy by 2050.
"Nevada homes and businesses that run on solar power depend on photovoltaic cells, and more than 60% of them come from China," said Conine.
"While Nevada remains committed to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, our respective governments must work together to foster a renewed commitment to sustainability," he said.
The tariffs, which were intended to generate new jobs, were criticized by industry advocacy groups that argued that higher costs and uncertainty surrounding the added tariffs would lead to job losses.
Their argument was supported by the latest census of The Solar Foundation, a Washington-based advocacy group.
The US solar industry employed 10,000 fewer solar workers in 2017 and 8,000 fewer in 2018, which represents two consecutive years that solar employment has dropped after seven years of steady growth, according to the Solar Jobs Census. The Trump administration began mulling the tariffs in the first half of 2017.
(Writing by Emma Yang Editing by Jessie Jia)
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