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California Will Lose One-Quarter Of Its Solar Jobs Next Year If Federal Government Rules Against Industry in Trade Case

SEIA forecasts loss of 16,000 jobs in state, 88,000 across U.S. if Suniva petition granted

Thursday, Jun 15 2017

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Press Release

WASHINGTON D.C.  — The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the national trade association for the solar industry, said today that California will lose 26 percent of its solar jobs next year if Suniva gets trade protections proposed in its petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

This spring, Georgia-based Suniva asked the ITC to place a tariff on imported solar cells and set a price floor for virtually all imported panels, arguing that it cannot compete with foreign rivals. Suniva, which is majority-owned by a Chinese firm, filed the petition after declaring bankruptcy in April.

Overall, SEIA said, the U.S. will lose some 88,000 jobs next year, or about one-third of the American solar workforce today, if Suniva prevails. Nearly 16,000 of those jobs would be lost in California.

“These new estimates show the potential damage to the solar industry as a result of this petition,” said SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. “Rather than help the industry, the action would kill many thousands of American jobs and put a stop to billions of dollars in private investment.”

“Our estimates show that even in the states where Suniva and its lone supporter, SolarWorld, have operations, if the petition succeeds there would be many times more jobs lost than expected gains for the two struggling companies,” Hopper said.

SEIA said that if Suniva gets the relief it is seeking, prices will rise substantially, slashing demand for solar and sending the industry in reverse.

Among the states standing to lose the most jobs include South Carolina with an expected job loss of 7,000, 6,300 jobs in Texas, and 3,700 in Florida, according to preliminary estimates by SEIA.

“Suniva’s trade petition has the potential to negatively impact more than 1,000 hardworking Swinerton installers throughout the United States, with emerging utility-scale markets taking the hardest hit, said George Hershman, senior vice president and general manager of Swinerton Renewable Energy. “Should the petition be approved, those markets would no longer be cost-competitive, killing a growing economy and a real opportunity for job creation.”

“We believe Suniva’s Section 201 trade petition has a strong potential to negatively affect thousands of current and future jobs across the renewable energy industry,” said Trent Mostaert, vice president and general manager for Solar and Emerging Renewables at Mortenson Construction. “Solar energy has achieved tremendous adoption in the U.S. and costs continue to decrease as the industry grows and this proposal could bring that progress to a halt and hurt the economy.” 

The case comes after a record-breaking year of solar energy growth in 2016 when nationwide installed capacity doubled and industry jobs grew by 51,000 jobs, a 25 percent increase. California’s solar capacity grew 38 percent last year. The state added nearly 25,000 solar jobs in 2016.

SEIA forecasts that solar jobs would be lost in all segments of the market. The utility-scale market, which has paced the industry’s growth for years, would see jobs shrink by 60 percent, while residential and commercial employment would fall by 44 percent and 46 percent, respectively, SEIA said.

For more information about the trade case, and SEIA’s work to oppose it, see our fact sheet.

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About SEIA®:

Celebrating its 43rd anniversary in 2017, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 260,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America.  SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.

 

Media Contact:

Alex Hobson, SEIA Senior Communications Manager, ahobson@seia.org, (202) 556-2886