South Carolina Will Lose Nearly 90% of Its Solar Jobs Next Year If Federal Government Rules Against Industry in Trade Case
SEIA forecasts loss of 7,000 jobs in state – 88,000 nationally – if Suniva petition granted
Thursday, Jun 15 2017
WASHINGTON D.C. — The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the national trade association for the solar industry, said today that South Carolina will lose 88 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, the Georgia-based company 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 current American solar workforce, if Suniva prevails. In that event, South Carolina would lose 7,000 of its 7,900 jobs in 2018, SEIA estimated.
“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 more jobs lost than gained by 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 California with an expected job loss of 15,800, 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 a thousand hardworking Swinerton installers throughout the United States, with emerging utility-scale markets like the Southeast and Texas 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.”
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. South Carolina’s market soared last year, leapfrogging nine states with an 892 percent jump in its solar capacity and a 57 percent jump in jobs.
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.
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.
Alex Hobson, SEIA Senior Communications Manager, [email protected], (202) 556-2886