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New Tariffs Will Shake Up the Solar Industry

The first protectionist policies implemented by the Trump Administration, a key part of the president's campaign platform, will affect the renewable energy industry.
January 26, 2018, 2pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Silicon Valley
Andrei Stanescu

"President Trump slapped steep tariffs on imports of washing machines and solar energy cells and panels on Monday, the first major step by the administration to erect the kind of trade barriers Mr. Trump has frequently said are necessary to protect manufacturers in the United States," report Ana Swanson and Brad Plumer.

The tariffs are the first of an expected series of trade measures that could eventually also reach industries like steel, aluminum, and other products. For now, however, the solar industry and environmentalists are scrambling to make sense of the new policy.

After breaking the news of the new tariffs, Swanson and Plumer wrote a separate article that digs into the human-and-corporate-interest angle of the news. While two solar companies, Suniva and SolarWorld sought the tariffs, "they are expected to ripple throughout the industry in ways that may ultimately hurt American companies and their workers," according to Swanson and Plumer. Moreover, "[e]nergy experts say it is unlikely that the tariffs will create more than a small number of American solar manufacturing jobs, since low-wage countries will continue to have a competitive edge."

Furthering the idea that the tariffs won't be a boon for the entire solar industry, Andrew Maykuth writes an article that checks-in with local solar installation companies in Philadelphia, where the owner of one business is very pessimistic about the effects of the tariffs.

And in a potential surprise take, Al Gore took to the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos and defended the action by President Trump, saying the tariffs are not "an utter catastrophe." 

Full Story:
Published on Monday, January 22, 2018 in New York Times
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