Last week, our friends at the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) hosted an outstanding policy forum in Washington, D.C. The event convened a number of high-profile industry leaders and policymakers to discuss energy and tax policy, debate pressing issues in the changing electricity marketplace, and identify priorities for Congress, the states, and relevant agencies.
The topics for discussion included renewable energy finance in the new tax law, the impact of solar tariffs on U.S. competitiveness, renewable electric grid, and the new renewables alliance of cities, states and businesses.
Our own Managing Director Heather Reams participated in the “American Renewable Energy Competitiveness: The Impact of Tariffs” panel, which also included panelists Nigel Cockroft, the general manager of JinkoSolar, Christopher Mansour, the vice president of federal affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), and Scott Zajac, the Chief Executive Officer of the Rockwood Group. The panel was moderated by Arthur Haubenstock, the vice president of policy and strategy at 8minutenergy Renewables, LLC.
The panel discussed the scope of the global business opportunity for renewable energy and the positioning of U.S. companies to compete in light of President Trump’s recent decision to impose tariffs on imported solar panels. But Reams she also took the opportunity to emphasize the role of conservatives in the movement.
“This is not [just] a renewable business or clean energy [story],” she said. “It is business. It is a massive part of our economy. It’s growing rapidly. Why do you want to abandon that?”
Indeed, it is about the economy and jobs, which are priorities for conservatives. There were over 260,000 jobs in the U.S. solar industry in 2016, and it created one in every 50 new jobs created. It is growing at 12 times the rate the rest of the economy and will eventually lead to one million new jobs created across the supply chain through 2050. The Section 201 tariffs are a significant setback because U.S. jobs deal mostly with construction and maintenance related to solar projects—not manufacturing.
Furthermore, conservatives back solar energy. When asked in a recent poll we sponsored, more respondents said they’d invest their own money in solar with $35.40 out of $100 dollars, followed by wind at $17.90, and natural gas at $11.80.
Ultimately, Reams and her fellow panelists were bullish on solar in spite of the tariffs approved by the Administration; its overall growth is simply too robust to be derailed by something like tariffs. She appreciated the opportunity to participate in the panel, and we look forward to continuing to partner with ACORE in clean energy advocacy efforts, including National Clean Energy Week.