Solar Industry Group Warns of Over 80,000 Layoffs
The U.S. has informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the government is considering imposing tariffs on solar cells, most of which are being imported from China. The move comes after an American manufacturer of solar cells, Suniva, Inc., filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC), urging U.S. regulators to impose such tariffs.
However, industry experts say that if Suniva’s proposed duties are approved, the American solar industry would face a major setback. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), as many as 88,000 jobs could be lost if tariffs are imposed. This is about one-third of the total number of American jobs in the solar industry. More than 250,000 Americans are currently employed in the solar industry.
Georgia-based Suniva has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to seek protection from its creditors. The company cited competition from Chinese solar companies as the reason behind its financial woes.
The company’s complaint to the ITC suggests that cheaper imports of solar cells and solar modules from outside of the U.S. should be levied with duties so that American-based solar companies can compete with them on pricing.
The SEIA forecasts that the solar industry could see massive layoffs in installation, construction, and sales. This is because the tariffs could nearly double the prices of solar equipment which will, in turn, hurt demand for solar products. With domestic installations falling, companies would be forced to cut back on output and resort to cost-cutting, which will ultimately lead to layoffs.
The SEIA says that all segments of the solar industry could get hurt if new tariffs are introduced. The group estimates that utility market jobs would shrink by 60%, residential solar jobs would tumble by 44%, and commercial jobs would fall by 46%.
The ITC is currently weighing the pros and cons of imposing tariffs. The ITC is expected to give its verdict by September.
The solar industry accounted for roughly $84.0 billion in economic activity throughout the U.S. last year.
“88,000 American Solar Jobs Are Under Threat From Suniva’s Trade Case, Says SEIA,” Greentech Media, June 16, 2017.