LETTER – War on Clean Energy: Trump Imposes Steep Tariff on Imported Solar Panel Technology

President Trump has imposed a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panel technology. The move is a major blow for the $28 billion solar industry, which gets about 80 percent of its solar panel products from imports. The Solar Energy Industries Association predicted the tariffs would increase prices and kill 23,000 jobs.


“What Trump’s tariff is really doing is hurting the solar industry and not helping American companies. The tariff will put over 20,000 employees in the solar industry out of a job. This is Trumps war on clean energy”, said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “There’s been a boom in solar installations nationwide because of low-cost solar panels. The purpose of this tax is to try and make them more expensive. While they’re doing that, they then want to give extra subsidies to coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. There’s already $15 billion in the current budget in subsidies for fossil fuels.”

The tariffs apply to all imported solar photovoltaic cells and modules, the main technology on panels that convert solar energy into electricity.


“Trump is trying to stifle solar power, but we know the truth. Investors worldwide are realizing the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy. While there are five times more jobs in clean energy than fossil fuels, Trump is pushing for dirty fuels that threatens our economy and increase greenhouse gasses,” said Tittel.


According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 68% in the last decade. The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70% since 2010 and there are more than double the number of solar jobs than existed only five years ago. New Jersey used to be a leader in solar energy: we used to be the 2nd in the nation for solar power but since Governor Christie we have dropped down to the 8th. With the new administration we are getting ready to ramp up solar but a tariff this large could severely undercut efforts to make us a leader once more.

“This is part of the Fossil Fool plan in the White House to undermine renewable energy while promoting fossil fuels. This tariff has nothing to do with trade; they are merely trying to hold back our clean energy future. Trump knows that solar is cheaper and more efficient than fossil fuels, so his Administration wants to use this unnecessary tariff to control it,” said Tittel.


President Trump’s tariff proposal is likely to be settled eventually by the Switzerland-based World Trade Organization (WTO), where China and other countries are nearly certain to challenge the tariffs as a violation of international law.

“We need to be focusing on transitioning to renewable energy such as solar and wind. These types of energy not only create jobs and reduce pollution, but don’t contribute to climate change. Solar industry employment has nearly tripled since the first National Solar Jobs Census was released in 2010. Focusing on renewable gives us jobs and clean energy while providing alternatives to offshore drilling, coal mining, and fracking,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The Trump Administration is sacrificing smart, clean energy technology to stay on the good side of the fossil fuel industry and it’s shameful. Trump is putting solar in the shade but solar will keep on going no matter what he does.”_______________________________________
Taylor McFarland

New Jersey Sierra Club