What is the Solar ITC Trade Case and Tariff?

Earlier this year, two U.S. based solar module manufacturers brought a case to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in which they stated that lower quality, imported solar panels were affecting American manufacturers’ business competitiveness and creating an environment where they could no longer remain competitive in the market. In September, the ITC had an initial ruling that agreed with the American manufacturers, stating that damage was made to U.S. solar manufacturer competitiveness in the global solar market.

What’s next?

The possibility of “the authority to impose penalties on the imports of solar products.” The ITC is looking to potentially impose tariffs or at least, minimum import prices so that U.S. solar manufacturers would return to being competitive in the market (based on price) and that solar companies in the U.S. will continue to buy domestically manufactured panels as opposed to imported ones.

So, what are the repercussions of a potential ITC ruling?

The solar industry has largely agreed that should tariffs be imposed, upwards of 85,000 U.S. jobs could be lost due to the entire costs of equipment in the industry going up, thus making many currently marginal solar projects uneconomic. A setback that would increase solar prices for consumers is not something that we endorse at Arctic Solar Ventures. In truth, this is a difficult issue to address, and we largely use U.S. manufactures already and always have. So for Arctic Solar Ventures this will impact our business very little as we are already strong supporters of U.S. manufacturing. For consumers and our customers alike this could cause prices to increase next year (but the ultimate effect remains unknown until we see what an ITC ruling looks like and what (if any) tariffs may be imposed.

We remain strong believers that there is no better time to always go solar than “now”, but with the possible threat of increased prices next year this may be especially acute for the remainder of 2017.

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