CEO: US Solar Trade Case is a Job Killer

There’s another solar trade war brewing and if the U.S. solar manufacturing companies that have brought it to the forefront are successful, it’s estimated that up to $.78 per watt could be added to solar panel costs in the United States.

For background, earlier this spring, bankrupt Georgia-based manufacturer Suniva filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) about its inability to compete with cheap solar imports from Asia. In May, SolarWorld became a co-petitioner. The ITC should rule on the matter in September and send its recommendations to U.S. President Trump.

“It’s a job killer,” said John Berger, CEO of Sunnova, a solar power company, which employs 260 people and has raised more than $2 billion to help residential homeowners go solar.

The company has 50,000 customers and has been profitable for five straight quarters, he said.

Berger isn’t going to wait and see what happens in September. He’s in Washington this week meeting with members of congress to explain to them what is at risk and to make sure they understand what is happening in the solar industry. He said he was surprised how many members of congress aren’t paying enough attention to the enormous growth of the U.S. solar market, an industry that employs 260,000 people according to latest figures.

“We’re from Texas. We have conservative views and are focused on capitalism,” he said, adding “we see consumer choice spreading because of solar and batteries.”

Berger believes solar is on an upswing, especially because of the growth of energy storage and batteries, in particular.

“We are the cell phone, we aren’t going away,” he said. “This [solar] isn’t a political movement. This is fundamental economic growth and technological change.”

Once the politicians in Washington understand how important solar is to American jobs, Berger is hopeful that the Trump administration will not impose tariffs on modules from Asia.

“Trump has made it clear that he supports the creation of more American jobs so we are confident that he will carefully weigh his options and choose to protect American jobs by not imposing tariffs,” said Berger.

Lead image: Solar installer. Credit: Pixaby.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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