A new tariff has recently been placed on foreign-made solar modules in the United States – what does this mean for homeowners interested in solar power? We’ll be covering the origin of this ruling, details of the tariff, and the law’s effect on solar prices, specifically in the Virginia-Maryland-DC market.
In April 2017, the Chinese solar manufacturer Suniva (who has facilities in the United States) filed a trade complaint under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 which enables the President to grant “import relief” by imposing duties, or non-tariff barriers, on goods entering the United States. In September 2017, the International Trade Commission reached a unanimous decision (4/4) that solar panel imports had injured domestic manufacturers. In November, they sent recommendations to the White House for a final ruling.
On January 22, 2018, Donald Trump approved those relief recommendations for domestic solar manufacturers (as well as large washing machines). The tariff schedule is 30% in year one, 25% in year two, 20% in year three, and 15% in year four. The President ruled that both Canada and Mexico are contributing to domestic injury, and that neither would enjoy their default exemption from the ruling (no countries are exempt). The first 2.5 gigawatts (approximately 3.25m panels) of imports each year will be exempt from the tariff. For more details, please see The White House Fact Sheet.
According to Solar United Neighbors, the 30% tariff will add about 10-15 cents per watt to the price of solar installations. This amounts to approximately a 6% increase in the price of a solar power system. When this effect will be felt remains to be determined. Many installers (including Nova Solar) have been hoarding panels in anticipation of this ruling. We do not expect it to have any effect on our pricing for the next few months.