More than 600 American solar manufacturing facilities employ 38,000 workers across the US, that’s according to the First Edition of Profiles in American Solar Manufacturing. The new report from the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) highlights some of these facilities that make up a much higher percentage of workers than those two companies that supported the trade petition with International Trade Commission.
While the US solar industry now supports more than 260,000 jobs, most are in installing solar power on rooftops, commercial and utility-scale projects. Still the 36,000 US manufacturing jobs in the industry are a fair percentage of those and all the solar industry jobs that could be imperiled if the petition for trade relief is approved by the ITC and implemented by the Trump Administration. If implemented, the petition, brought by bankrupt Suniva and supported by SolarWorld, would raise the costs of solar panels in the US significantly, slowing growth in the industry and forcing companies to make layoffs.
The trade case has seen wide opposition. Everyone from conservative groups, US solar manufacturers and suppliers, and even a bipartisan group of federal legislators have spoken out against the trade case.
“The net impact is that the American solar industry will lose many more manufacturing jobs than it will gain from this ill-conceived trade case,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA president and CEO. “The petitioners made bad business decisions during the biggest boom in American solar energy history. They are now being largely controlled by their creditors who are looking for a bailout from their investments in poorly-run companies. Plain and simple, these companies are not worthy of an injury finding.”
That these other 600 facilities in the US continue to grow and boom, offers a strong contrast to the case made by the two companies. These companies aren’t just making solar panels, but also monitoring systems, inverters, racking systems, solar trackers and other devices that help the industry grow and become more cost-competitive with other forms of electricity.
“As the solar industry goes, so goes my company,” said Attala Steel CEO Billy Atwood in the new report. “If the solar industry goes down by 30 percent, I go down by 30 percent. It’s a direct reflex. Ninety percent of my business is in the solar industry.”
Similarly, Solectria Renewables CEO James Worden said of the petition: “It is going to be very damaging to the progress of the solar industry.” The company makes inverters and monitoring systems in the US. “It will result in cancellation of innumerable solar projects as investors pull out of their deals and there will be a loss of thousands of well-paying jobs.”
SEIA observed that Suniva and SolarWorld weren’t diversifying the markets they served, like utility-scale solar farms. It also charged that “they did not offer adequate quality products to utility-scale developers. In the retail segment, they failed to qualify their products with major rooftop purchasers.”Tweet