Op-ed: Solar tariffs won’t put the American worker first

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Donavan Gualtier, Vivint Solar foreman, installs solar panels to power an electric vehicle ChargePoint at Suzanne Harrison’s home in Draper on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017.

One of President Donald Trump’s first major trade decisions will have lasting ramifications for the solar industry in this country. The case, brought forward by two foreign-owned solar panel manufacturers, proposes the United States impose substantial import tariffs on solar panels in order to bolster the competitiveness of American solar panel manufacturing. As a staunch supporter of domestic manufacturing who wants to put “America First,” it seems like an easy choice for the president. But the issue is not as cut and dried as it seems and is fraught with unintended consequences.

As a lifelong Republican, I, like the president, believe in the power of the free market and supporting U.S. job growth. Of equal importance, I also side with the 90 percent of Americans who support more development of solar in the U.S., not less. This is why my company has worked tirelessly to create over 4,000 well-paying U.S.-based jobs across 21 states over the past six years so that we can enable homeowners to go green and save money at the same time. It is also why we, one of the largest residential solar providers in the country, and almost every other solar company source our solar panels from overseas. We need affordable panels to compete with other methods of energy generation and to be able to offer rooftop solar to Americans at an affordable price point.

Taking advantage of the highly competitive free market has enabled the solar industry to drive tremendous innovation, consumer adoption and job growth. Solar is growing

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