Though President Donald Trump’s decision to levy a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels drew outcries from critics, the move was met with a measured approach by San Luis Obispo-based REC Solar.
“While the tariff determination is a disappointment, the solar market is a resilient one,” said Alan Russo, senior vice president for sales and marketing for REC Solar.
California has heavily invested in solar power, with more than 450,000 rooftops deploying solar panels, according to a Sacramento Bee report. REC Solar recently oversaw the installation of an 11 million kilowatt-hours-per-year facility at Cal Poly, providing the university with 25 percent of its power.
Trump’s decision, announced last week by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, affects only imported solar panels, the vast majority of which come from China, a tariff that will decline gradually over a period of four years, with the final year dropping to 15 percent. Russo expects the effects on businesses such as REC, which primarily installs and maintains solar, to be minimal.
Russo said the tariff means that solar customers can expect to see a slightly higher upfront cost to installing solar panels, but that they will still pay themselves off in the long run. In part, that’s because solar panels account for just about quarter of the overall cost of installation.
“That means that even with the tariff, solar can still provide dramatic savings to an organization over the life of the system,” Russo said.