January 24, 2018


Trump's Solar-Panel Tariff Will Kill More Jobs Than It Can Possibly Create : America is great at solar-panel installation. But we'll probably never dominate in solar-panel manufacturing. (NEEL V. PATEL, JAN 24, 2018, Slate)

[T]he biggest reactions to the new tariffs have been anger and frustration, because while the decision will be good for solar-panel manufacturing in the U.S., it will not be good for installation. At stake is the continued growth of what is currently a $29 billion industry. The solar-energy industry relies on parts made abroad for about 80 percent of its supplies--and those cheap panels have been the main reason solar power is the fastest-growing source of new energy.

The solar industry has been growing at an annual rate of nearly 68 percent, putting somewhere between 260,000-374,000 Americans to work across the country. "Solar installer" is set to be the fastest-growing job in the U.S. for the next decade. With the cost of solar dropping nearly 70 percent since 2010, the industry has made incredible strides in the effort to expand, and solar no longer seems like a niche avenue for the environmentally concerned to meet their electricity needs. But now, there are strong fears the tariff is going to put this kind of growth to a screeching halt and lead to massive layoffs across the industry. At least 23,000 jobs could be lost this year alone according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and tens of thousands of more later on.

The solar-panel manufacturing sector won't be able to replace those jobs. The SEIA argues that of the 38,000 jobs in solar manufacturing in the U.S., only 2,000 are focused on actually making the cells and panels. Optimistic predictions suggest the tariff might be used to add just 6,400 jobs in solar manufacturing. "There's no doubt this decision will hurt U.S. manufacturing, not help it," Bill Vietas, president of RBI Solar in Cincinnati, said in an SEIA statement.

As it turns out, it's not China undercutting U.S. companies. The White House is doing that all on its own.

'Taking Us to the Cleaners' (Veronique de Rugy, January 24, 2018, National Review)

Bloomberg has an example of some consumers' responses to the tariff announcement:

The president's announcement has sent some homeowners hunting for panels before duties kick in.

"It got kind of hysterical around here," T.R. Ludwig, chief executive officer of Brooklyn Solarworks, said in an interview "A lot of people want to get in on the non-Trump-tariff panels."

The Brooklyn-based installer in December locked in $250,000 worth of panels from South Korea's LG Electronics Inc., which they'll store in a warehouse until needed. Even with tariffs, panels can still help homeowners save money on energy, Ludwig said. It will just take a little long to recover cover the cost of the systems, he said.

"It means a payback that was four to six years now takes five to eight years," Ludwig said. "On an asset that's guaranteed for 25 years."

On top of all that, commissioners can't take under consideration the U.S. jobs that may be lost in the U.S. factories of foreign competitors. On one hand, U.S. Whirlpool will add 200 new workers once the tariffs start hammering the competition. But what happens to the 600 workers hired by Samsung Electronics for its washer factory in South Carolina now that its costs of producing in the U.S. are increasing dramatically? According to SEIA, when all is said and done, 23,000 jobs will be lost this year alone. And commissioners can't take under consideration the loss of solar-panel-installer jobs or profits. Higher costs mean fewer investments, less growth, and fewer jobs in that industry.

Another consequence of the tariff may be the retaliation that U.S. exporters will face from some foreign countries. The ITC doesn't take that under consideration either. And of course, there is also the possibility that the World Trade Organization will rule Trump's tariffs illegal. That possibility alone could slow down investment in U.S. solar factories.

All this because our government made it a priority to protect the interests of a few domestic producers at the expense of thousands and thousands of consumers and other workers. That behavior is also called "cronyism."

For Donald, the economic harm is outweighed by the hygiene of not dealing with Asiatics.

Posted by at January 24, 2018 5:13 PM