11 May 2018
Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Repeal Safeguard Duties on Solar Cells and Modules
A bi-partisan group of House lawmakers led by Rep. Jacky Rosen (Democrat-Nevada) introduced legislation on 18 April to repeal the safeguard measure President Trump imposed on 23 January on imports of crystalline silicone photovoltaic cells and modules. CSPV cells and modules will face a safeguard tariff of 30 percent through 6 February 2019 and that tariff will fall to 25 percent in the second year (7 February 2019 through 6 February 2020), 20 percent in the third year (7 February 2020 through 6 February 2021) and 15 percent in the fourth year (7 February 2021 through 6 February 2022). In addition to Rep. Rosen, the bill’s co-sponsors include Republican lawmakers Mark Sanford (South Carolina), Ralph Norman (South Carolina) and Stephen Knight (California) as well as Democratic lawmaker Jared Huffman (California).
The Protecting American Solar Jobs Act (H.R. 5571) would amend subchapter III of chapter 99 of the Harmonised Tariff Schedule of the United States to repeal the safeguard tariffs retroactive to 7 February. The lawmakers contend that, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the 30 percent safeguard tariff on imported solar cells and panels will cause the loss of about 23,000 American jobs this year as well as the delay or cancellation of billions of dollars of investments in solar energy. In addition, GTM Research estimates the safeguard tariffs will cause a net reduction of about 11 percent in U.S. solar installations from 2018 to 2022, reducing installations from an estimated 68.9 gigawatts to 61.3 gigawatts over the next five years.
According to the National Solar Jobs Census, the U.S. solar workforce has increased by 168 percent over the past seven years, from about 93,000 jobs in 2010 to over 250,000 jobs in 2017. Over 80 percent of solar jobs in the United States are in the installation, sales, distribution and project development sectors, all of which heavily depend on the availability of affordable solar panels. Moreover, in 2016 solar energy was the single largest source of new electric generating capacity in the United States and solar photovoltaic installers was the fastest growing occupation.
Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, believes the legislation represents “an important step in countering the harmful impact of tariffs on the solar industries.” According to Ross Hopper, “it is clear that solar is the energy of choice for Americans and we must do what we can to allow this economic engine to continue to advance here in the U.S.”