In what some are calling a huge blow to the renewable energy industry, the Trump Administration has imposed a pretty hefty tariff on solar-energy cells and panels imported into the country.
David Nelson owns Light It Up Solar in Chico. He has about 8 employees, and since 2007 has been serving most of the North State.
“Why rent your electricity when you can own your electricity?”
That's his slogan. And his value proposition is that it's cheaper.
“The whole point of solar is to save money, no doubt about it,” he says.
He said the high prices of electricity and the amount of sun are the main market drivers.
They install 2 different brands of panels, some are from the United States, and some are not.
The ones that aren't, are significantly cheaper, so this tariff is going to have a pretty big impact on his business.
The president approved a 4-year tax on imported solar energy cells and panels. It will start at 30% and fall by 5% each year, ending with 15% in the 4th year.
The bad news for us, Nelson says there's no way for companies to not raise their prices.
“When you have a 30% increase in costs, that's more than our margins, so yeah absolutely you have to pass that cost down to your customers; it's a hard one to swallow,” he said.
Some say this is a huge blow to the renewable energy industry in general, and certainly will make building solar-energy farms less attractive.
Nelson says it will also be hard for the industry to remain competitive, because customers will now have a tougher decision to make.
“You know, it's nice to say you're green, and it's nice to say you're energy efficient, but if it's going to cost you more money than it's going to save you, then that definitely brings up a factor,” Nelson said.
Imported washers will also be hit with a tax of up to 50% in the first year, and that will phase out after 3 years.
These tolls are part of President Trump's promise to protect American manufacturing, and he says this tax will protect American jobs and American workers.