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Son of migrant workers, now solar CEO: Don't put tariffs on Chinese solar panels

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Because of our manufacturing model, such tariffs would not directly impact our company, but I am still deeply concerned about the tariffs being considered. International competition has driven the availability of lower cost Chinese products and has been a key factor in reducing costs throughout the US solar industry.

My concern is that the tariffs being considered will likely result in higher costs for solar energy components and a trade war with China. These developments would seriously endanger the vibrant US solar industry and derail our country’s progress toward creating good jobs, attaining energy security, achieving a cleaner environment by substituting renewable fuels for fossil fuels, and lowering our dependence on imported oil.

More specifically, far from benefitting the US solar sector, the huge price increase that SolarWorld seeks on some imported solar panels would have a devastating impact because the affordability of solar electricity will be diminished and the growth in investments and jobs that has occurred in the last several years could come to a stop. Higher prices could in fact jeopardize billions of dollars of renewable energy contracts, including $11 billion for projects placed in 2012, placing thousands of jobs at risk.

Yes, China’s government supports its solar industry, as governments in the US, Germany, Japan, and several other technologically advanced countries do for their industries. In the US, this support includes a patchwork of programs, including research grants, tax credits, and Renewable Portfolio Standards (required increases in energy produced from renewable sources) in 29 states. In spite of these programs, the US still needs a clearer commitment to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, such as solar and wind power. But a trade war with China would make progress even more difficult.

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