An America First Plan for Solar Energy

An America First Plan for Solar Energy
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File

President Trump is facing a stark choice in a solar trade case that pits two foreign-owned, bankrupt companies against America’s surging solar industry and its formidable American workforce. We are asking the president to put “America First.” To help him do that, we are proposing a six-step plan to add jobs, support innovation and create economic growth.

Under this America First solar plan, the President will be saying yes to jobs, economic growth, innovation and national security. If he sides with the two foreign-owned companies, Suniva and SolarWorld, he will kill tens of thousands of American jobs, weaken national security and raise electricity prices for everyday Americans and businesses.

The President should put America First above ill-conceived tariffs that amount to new taxes on solar energy. The 260,000-worker strong American solar industry, including its 38,000 employees in U.S. solar manufacturing are generating tens of billions of dollars in investment that benefits communities, counties and states across the nation while strengthening our energy grid against natural and manmade disasters.

Two foreign-owned companies are exploiting U.S. trade law and are asking the president for a bailout in the form of tariffs and import ceilings. It’s a bad deal for America. They want the federal government to tip the market. They want to force utility companies and their customers to pay off hedge fund owners and foreign creditors that made bad investments. They have no real plan for creating a strong and far-reaching solar industry that includes manufacturing and strengthens the supply chain.

Fortunately, we do. In our new report, we outline six policy recommendations for the president and his administration:

  • Say No to Solar Tariffs: These taxes on industry will raise electricity prices, kill jobs and bring an American economic success story to a halt.
  • Support our Military and National Security: Take a strong stand for the military by keeping the costs of solar down. Our fighting forces need solar in the battlefield and use solar on domestic bases today. Solar helps ensure mission success.
  • Ensure U.S. Energy Dominance: Do not cede world leadership in solar power production. Listen to a broad but unified coalition of energy producers, conservative groups and American businesses large and small, which all see solar investment as giving them an edge.
  • Fight for American Workers and Don’t Turn Off This Economic Engine: Today, solar is a force in America's economy. Keep the booming solar market going strong and offering well-paying jobs.
  • Don’t Bail Out Failed Foreign Firms: You will be helping millionaires in China and Germany, and investors in Qatar and Europe, rather than the American families that have built this booming American industry. Don’t let two foreign-based, bankrupt companies manipulate U.S. law for a bailout.
  • An America First Plan for Solar: If you believe those firms need assistance, create a plan that would support further investment in U.S. manufacturing, not just bail out foreign investors. Say no to traditional tariffs and quotas, and use American innovation - such as an import license fee that will get hundreds of millions of dollars in direct investment help to U.S. companies and our economy.

No one wants to support trade taxes that harm American workers and increase energy prices. Virtually all parties, including the administration, can support these innovative solutions to increase domestic manufacturing, continue solar's rapid growth and save tens of thousands of American jobs.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is the national trade association for the U.S. solar industry. 

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