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Old 05-17-2019, 01:51 PM   #27
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The first round of the Trump tariffs had an immediate negative effect on the solar industry. Most of the modules used in large utility scale projects such as the Co-op's on Moultonboro Neck had come from China (an example, I don't know where they sourced their modules). When the first round of tariffs went into effect last year it had two very unfortunate consequences; a shortage of solar modules in the industry, and the cancellation of a great many industrial solar projects. One of the industry blogs I follow stated that the cancelled projects lead to 88,000 American workers in the solar field losing their jobs after the tariffs hit. This may not have been noticeable in most of New England because there aren't that many utility scale installations, but it certainly had to be felt in the sunbelt states.
We won't use Chinese products in our installations, mainly because of lesser quality and warranty issues, but we felt the cost through the increase in demand and eventually pricing because of the increased demand. We absorbed the additional costs on all the systems we already had contracted. That however isn't a sustainable long term business practice if political whims are going to continually destabilize competitively balanced price structure.
So far this year we are busier than ever with our residential and small business contracts and have needed to add four more electricians :-). Sourcing the exact modules we want at the time when we want them is a little more challenging but we have been able to get what we need and the prices seemed to have stabilized. The effect of the tariff has proved to be just a ripple in the water for us but I have to wonder if all of the utility scale installers have found work yet? With the ever increasing demand for residential solar, at least in New England I would hope that they have.
The real question in my mind is had the first round of tariffs gone into effect a year or two earlier, would there be a 6,000 module array on Moultonboro Neck producing power right now? ...probably not, and how many local workers wouldn't have been paid for that project? Protectionism has a price and it shouldn't be instituted without carefully considering all of the costs and consequences.
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