Solar Business Leaders React to Trump Tariff Decision

WASHINGTON (January 22, 2017) – Today, President Trump announced his decision to levy penalizing tariffs on imported solar panels, an alarming move that could leave lasting damage across one of America’s fastest-growing job sectors.

This decision comes despite calls from companies, members of Congress, worker groups, and Republican-led organizations urging Trump not to impede U.S. clean energy growth.

Below are reactions from four leading solar businesspeople.

Whitney Painter – Owner of Buglet Solar Electric (Golden, Colo.)

“Solar is the cheapest and fastest-growing energy source on the planet, and one of the top sectors of job growth in the US. A solar tariff would cause solar panel prices to spike domestically, and hurt my solar business in Colorado, as it would many other solar businesses across the country. American interests will not be served by using tariffs to decimate our solar industry.”

Bio: Whitney and her husband, Bart Sheldrake, own and run Buglet Solar Electric based in Golden, Colorado. As a small, community-based business, Buglet Solar has been installing residential and commercial photovoltaic (PV) solar systems, since 2006, throughout the Front Range and other areas of Colorado. Bart & Whitney are invested in Colorado, and in utilizing our planet’s natural resources in the most efficient ways possible. 

Ian Skor – Co-founder of Sandbox Solar (Fort Collins, Colo.)

”The decline in solar panel prices has directly contributed to the rise of the solar industry, allowing small business owners like myself to compete with larger corporations. Tariffs would negatively impact this trend of local jobs and our ability to grow. The US solar module manufacturing industry needs to be supported by research, innovation, and greater technology; not competing with regulations.” 

Bio: Ian is the co-founder of Sandbox Solar,  a solar panel installation company located in Northern Colorado. Sandbox Solar supports residential, commercial, and community solar customers with the design, development, and installation of solar panels utilizing the highest quality design tools and components. Ian is passionate about democratizing sustainable energy generation and consumption and has a has a wide range of experience in PV and energy efficiency project development, including LEED projects for commercial buildings. 

Mark Bortman – Founder of Exact Solar (Philadelphia. Penn.)

“The possibility of tariffs on foreign solar panels is a huge weight hanging over our heads. The uncertainty has already forced us to delay hiring and expansion plans. If tariffs or quotas are imposed, layoffs and contractions are a real possibility. Solar is really just starting to take off because it is truly a win-win-win situation. Customers save money on their energy bills, local people get good, high-earning jobs and the environmental benefits are the icing on the cake. Tariffs would really be shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Bio: Mark Bortman is a leading designer and installer of solar energy systems in Pennsylvania. Founding Exact Solar in 2005 after a year in Costa Rica learning about alternative energy technology from pioneer Bruce Carey, Mark’s company has quickly expanded from specializing in solar water heating and pool heating to an installer of solar electric systems.

​Will Kenworthy – VP of Regional Operations at Microgrid Energy (St. Louis, Mo.)

“Increasing costs on businesses and penalizing deployment of one of the world’s cheapest and fastest-growing energy sources should go against the goals of any Administration, but that’s what President Trump has done today with the announcement of the new tariffs.  Solar means more jobs, more energy choice, and more American-made energy.  Today’s decision effectively raises energy prices on households and businesses by making one of their most attractive options more expensive.”

Bio: Will has more than 20 years experience in the energy industry and is currently the Managing Director, Midwest for the Chicago office of Microgrid Energy. Will uses his deep knowledge and practical involvement in renewable energy project development, energy project financial analysis, energy industry economics and energy policy to help expand Microgrid Energy’s renewable energy project development and installation services into markets in the Midwest. 

James Schwartz – Vice President of Independence Solar

“Solar has been a tremendous success story for the US economy, creating 300,000 high paying jobs for American workers, lowering energy costs for homes and businesses, and providing a practical tool in the fight against climate change.  Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on panels puts hundreds of thousands of American jobs at risk and will drive up energy costs for consumers.  The Administration is playing politics with our collective future, and Americans are paying the price as a result.”

Bio: James has over 10 years experience in the development, financing, construction, and operation of renewable energy projects. Prior to joining Independence Solar, James was responsible for the development of over 10 MW of commercial PV projects for Spire Solar in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions. James also led the installation of more than 3,000 MW of wind energy systems as a senior manager for Second Wind Inc. James holds a B.A from Colorado College and an M.B.A from MIT.