The Trump administration announced Monday that it would impose hefty tariffs on the cheap, imported panels that have driven the rapid expansion of solar power in the United States, a move that industry groups warned would slow the spread of renewable energy and cost thousands of jobs….Companies that install solar panels will probably trim their workforces, industry analysts warned, as the tariff — which starts at 30% on the imported panels and gradually declines each year — threatens to substantially raise the price of solar power in the United States.
There are a couple of ways this could play out:
- The price of solar panels rises. This might seem to be good news for American solar panel manufacturers—though there are hardly any left—but if prices go up 30 percent it means that solar becomes less cost effective vs. other forms of electricity, which means fewer roof installations and fewer utility-level installations. This in turn means fewer jobs for Americans who work in the solar industry.
- Other countries get into the solar panel biz and prices stay low. American manufacturers aren’t affected one way or the other.
Behind Door #1, consumers have to pay 30 percent more for solar panels. Behind Door #2, the whole thing has no effect at all. So this policy might be bad for America or neutral for America, but there’s not much chance it will be good for America.
On the bright side, these tariffs basically act as a subsidy for fossil fuels, so Trump can pretend that it’s good for coal miners. And that’s what matters, amirite?