(Thomas Mitchell/4TH ST8) This week Obama slapped a 31 percent tariff on solar panels imported from China, accusing the nation of “dumping” them on the American market with the help of illegal subsidies for its industry. (Pay no attention to Solyndra or the $50 million U.S. subsidy for that Canadian-owned solar panel array in Primm and just about every other “green” fiasco this administration has thrown tax money at.)
Perhaps this is good news for those 200 workers laid off at the Amonix solar panel manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas. Drive up the competitors’ prices with tariffs and your product is more viable, right?
Not so fast, sunshine.
That also drives up the price for American consumers, ratepayers and taxpayers, since the American solar panel industry is subsidized at just about every level along the way from maker to market and during the life of panels.
Higher prices could dry up the market for private home and business installation. That means fewer jobs for installers.
According to the L.A. Times, citing the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Solar Foundation, the number of U.S. solar energy jobs reached 100,000 in 2011. More than half of those jobs were in installation. Only a fourth were in manufacturing.
So, Obama has put 50,000 jobs in jeopardy to try to protect 25,000.
Another unknown is what this will mean for that pie-in-the-sky plan to build an eco-city near Laughlin by Chinese solar panel maker ENN Energy. The county sold the company 9,000 acres of public land at a fraction of the appraised value. Will the tariffs provide an incentive for the company to actually build that manufacturing plant in Nevada or simply create such a rift between the two nations that it causes ENN to pull out altogether?