The sun is shining on solar energy firms.
On Tuesday, Oct. 31, four commissioners from the U.S. International Trade Commission voiced support for tariffs and import restrictions on cheap solar panels produced overseas in a bid to protect domestic solar energy firms.
The proposed rules, though, weren't consistent from commissioner to commissioner and remedies proposed by the officials didn't reach half of what companies Suniva and SolarWorld AG (SRWRY) asked of the commission in their initial complaints.
While that likely came as a disappointment to now bankrupt Suniva, the recommendation of as much as a 35% tariff on imported solar panels came as a relief to other firms concerned the tariff on imported panels would be much higher. Bigger tariffs could have shaken up the $29 billion industry with slower installation time frames and subsequent job cuts.
A tariff of 35%, which was on the high end of commissioner recommendations, would add about 10 cents per watt of solar energy from imported panels. That's not far from what solar energy producers were paying for imported panels as recently as last fall.
The decision to implement the new tariffs and trade restrictions will ultimately be President Donald Trump's. Solar energy firms with U.S. operations that could be affected include Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL) , SunRun Inc. (RUN) and SunPower Corp. (SPWR) .
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