Interested in Solar? Potential National Tariff – Suniva Trade Case

Sep. 26, 2017
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Posted: Tuesday, 9/26/17 @ 4pm EST

Interested in Solar? There’s a Potential Tariff in the Making….
Yet Another Reason why NOW Is the time to go solar.

A few weeks ago, we wrote a blog post about why NOW is the time to go solar in Massachusetts. In this blog post we discussed all the financial benefits and how they will change in 2018. We didn’t discuss another HUGE topic casting a shadow upon the sunny solar industry – a solar panel tariff on solar panels imported into the United States, which could raise a typical solar panel system price up to $5,000.

Explanation of the solar panel trade case

As of today, 9/26/17, there are no import/export tariffs on foreign-made solar panels imported into the U.S., such as LG, Hyundai and SunPower, three of the top selling solar panels in the U.S. for home owners; also, the three solar panels that Boston Solar offers.  Solar panels made outside of the U.S. are cheaper than U.S.-made solar panels due to the cost of labor and materials.

There are two major U.S.-made solar panel manufacturers – Suniva and SolarWorld.  They are both struggling financially, have for many years and recently filed for bankruptcy “due to a series of poor business decisions that negatively affected their ability to compete.”1 In May, Suniva filed a trade case blaming their financial problems on solar imports from China; SolarWorld quickly joined the petition.

As you may know, we also have a pro-U.S.-made President.  Recently, the President has demanded trade penalties against China.  This means, the potential tariff is more likely to pass than not.

1 Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA),

The potential solar panel tariff

Suniva and SolarWorld are seeking a $0.40/watt tariff on all imported solar cells and modules. From no tariff to $0.40/watt means an increase in system prices.  We estimate this will make prices go up AT LEAST $5,000 for an 8.5kW system, meaning more time until you break even from your solar investment.

What would a solar panel tariff mean for me?

You’re interested in solar, but are still doing some research and trying to navigate through all the financial spending, savings, financial benefits etc.  Makes sense – going solar is a financial investment with HUGE payoffs, quickly when you look at it in the scheme of payback in a couple of years with benefits that are expected to last past product warranties (25 years).

Here’s an example of payback for an 8.5kW system without financing (the average that Boston Solar installs):

Investment:                                      $30,515

Federal Tax Credit (30%):              $9,154

State Tax Credit:                             $1,000

Annual SREC Income:                    ~$2,000/year ($500/quarter)

Annual Electric Bill Savings:         ~$2,000/year ($166/month)


System Payback:                             5 YEARS

If you add another $5,000 (our estimate that would include the tariff), it would look like this:

Investment:                                      $35,515

Federal Tax Credit (30%):              $10,656

State Tax Credit:                             $1,000

Annual SREC Income:                    ~$2,000/year ($500/quarter)

Annual Electric Bill Savings:         ~$2,000/year ($166/month)


System Payback:                             6 YEARS

This means an additional year to break even. 

What’s next?

As of September 22nd, the International Trade Commission (ITC) determined that imported solar cells and solar panels have caused “serious injury” to U.S. solar panel manufacturers.  The ITC has moved one step closer in the case, providing a victory for Suniva and SolarWorld.  Since the ITC ruled in favor of this petition, there will be another hearing on October 3rd in Washington D.C. to discuss potential trade remedies.  The ITC will then send a recommendation to the President by November 13th, in which the industry would likely see the tariffs in the new year.

Although at Boston Solar we are very optimistic – this trade case is tough to be optimistic about due to the President’s comments about wanting more tariffs on Chinese products and his pro-U.S.-made stance.  We urge those that are researching solar to get a free estimate now and talk to one of our solar consultants.  We know that solar is a financial investment, but we also know that payback is quick, for savings that may last a lifetime.

Fill out the form on this page and we’ll contact you for your free, no obligation solar consultation and estimate.

Questions? Contact:
Natalie Holtgrefe
Director of Marketing at Boston Solar

Interested in Solar? Potential National Tariff – Suniva Trade Case

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