Southwest Florida’s solar-powered city, Babcock Ranch, is benefiting from the power of the sun. Its solar panels are made in South Korea — something President Donald Trump is discouraging with a new tariff.
Trump’s move Tuesday to tax imported solar cells is meant to make good on his vow to reverse decades of U.S. support for free trade and to protect American jobs from foreign competition.
But the tariffs – already denounced by China, Germany and Mexico – are likely to heighten tensions between the United States and its trade partners, slow the U.S. solar-installation business and raise prices for American consumers. And even touchier trade cases lie ahead, involving China’s overproduction of steel and aluminum and its theft of trade secrets, with consequences for American industry and workers.
“My administration is committed to defending American companies, and they’ve been very badly hurt from harmful import surges that threaten the livelihood of their workers,” Trump said as he signed the tariffs. “The United States will not be taken advantage of anymore.”
An immediate tariff of 30 percent will now be slapped on most imported solar modules; the rate will gradually phase out in four years.
“For us fortunately, our 75 megawatt solar powered generating facility that powers this entire town is already in place,” Babcock Ranch representative Syd Kitson said.
Babcock Ranch already has enough panels to last decades.
“If you’re moving to Babcock Ranch, it will have no impact at all on the cost,” Kitson said.
Experts say the production of the panels in the U.S. will be good for the economy. But installers say the new tax will cost you extra if you choose imported panels.
*Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.