This past week, I joined a dedicated group from Nexamp to travel from Boston to Washington D.C. to lend our voices to the opposition of a new solar tariff. The solar tariff, petitioned to the International Trade Commission (ITC) by Suniva, a U.S. based solar manufacturer, poses a serious threat to the solar industry. Should the tariff be imposed, it could potentially double the costs of solar installation by raising the prices of imported solar cells. The U.S. solar industry relies on access to the global market in order to compete with other fuel sources in the energy market. The proposed tariff would effectively price out clean energy customers and slow the growth of a thriving new industry in America. When the Nexamp team heard that SEIA was organizing an opposition rally for the ITC injury hearing, we didn’t hesitate to jump into a couple of SUV’s and make the eight-plus hour journey to join the gathering and show our support for the solar industry.
After waking up in our Airbnb early Tuesday morning, we donned our Nexamp hard hats and construction vests and headed over to the ITC building for the injury hearing. We were excited to see the overwhelming turnout from solar industry representatives who lined up outside the building and down the street wearing bright yellow shirts with the slogan “Save American Jobs, No New Solar Tariffs”. In fact, so many representatives from the solar industry attended the hearing that the ITC had to open up an overflow room for their overflow room! The message was clear: solar developers are not going to sit back quietly while their jobs are at stake.
Once our team was seated across the various viewing rooms open for the hearing, we watched as both sides presented their case. The Suniva testimony was difficult to hear. The loss of American jobs and the bankruptcy of an American company is certainly something to fight against. However, as the opposing camp highlighted in their testimony, the creation of a blanket solar cell tariff would not only fail to remedy the issues that lead to Suniva’s failure, but would also influence prices outside of what Suniva and other US solar manufacturers have supplied to the market. For instance, the opposition sited that the tariff Suniva is proposing would halt the progress being made in utility scale solar projects, an arena that Suniva never had the capacity to supply.
The solar industry is a growing market that is marked by motivated individuals and extensive opportunities and promises a bright future for American jobs. Even the small group of Nexampers that traveled to D.C is illustrative of the opportunities that are available. From Project Site Manager, to Project Developer, to Community Solar Intern, the diverse group of employees demonstrated our support because we have experienced firsthand the exciting, dynamic nature of today’s solar industry. From our CEO to our interns, the entire Nexamp team highlights the attitude that propels the solar industry’s innovation. This is the same attitude that drives a CEO to make it possible for his employees to show up for what they believe in. As a relatively new member of the solar development world, I can only hope that this industry continues to grow and the ITC and the President do not choose to sacrifice the promise of an entire industry in order to bail out two companies.
Click here to read more about the solar rally and the ITC hearing.