Leadership

Solar Group to Go on “Offense” Against New Tariffs

The head of the Solar Energy Industries Association says the group is ready to take "aggressive" next steps after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on imported solar panels.

In late January, the solar industry got bad news: The Trump administration announced a decision to impose a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels, at the request of two producers in the American market.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, which opposed the tariffs, warned of the potential for serious job losses. Now, a month later, SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper is sending the message in media interviews that her group is planning an “aggressive” strategy to take on the issue in Congress.

“Personally, we have been on the defense for the past year, and we are done,” Hopper told the Washington Examiner this week. “We are going on the offense. We are going to be aggressive, we are going to be outspoken, we are going to be clear about what we want. And then, we are going to go get it.”

SEIA is already adopting stronger language in response to comments from the administration. After President Trump suggested that his decision on tariffs had had a positive effect on the industry, Hopper said, “Let there be no doubt that the tariff decision was bad for American jobs and our economy.”

In an interview with E&E News, she noted that the tariff action was months in the making and that industry advocacy was able to soften the blow.  “I think through a lot of advocacy and a lot of education and a lot of coalition [work], there was a better outcome than there otherwise could have been,” she said.

SEIA learned a lot of lessons from the experience, building relationships with an array of groups on both sides of the aisle, Hopper told the Examiner. She said a major goal of the association is working toward a “depoliticization of energy” and noted that many solar jobs are being added in so-called red states.

“The medium-term goal for solar is to, by 2022, be 5 percent of America’s energy mix and continue to grow from there. My job at SEIA is to make sure we create the right policy groundwork and create the right market signals, so solar can grow at that level,” she said.

(scanrail/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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