Recently Time magazine reported that “The U.S. will impose duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made abroad, a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply.”
“While we believe the decision will be significantly harmful to our industry and the economy, we appreciate that the president and the administration listened to our arguments,” SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said in a press release. “Our industry will emerge from this. The case for solar energy is just too strong to be held down for long, but the severe near-term impacts of these tariffs are unfortunate and avoidable.”
There’s also a sliding scale to the tariffs over time, which makes them less odious than at first glance. The tariffs begin at up to 30% in 2018 but will decrease to a maximum of 25 percent in 2019, 20 percent in 2020, and 15 percent in 2021. This may not be ideal, but it is not as devastating as an across-the-board 30 percent tax, especially as technological innovations will likely drive down the costs of the modules themselves.
The tariffs will conceivably have an impact on the way that most solar businesses operate in the short-term, but companies can remain successful if they quickly, and properly, adjust. Here are some key things to keep in mind as you focus your energy on a healthy and thriving operation in 2018:
Make a Plan
The best way to navigate through this challenging period is to avoid impulsive and drastic actions like cutbacks to knowledgeable, skilled and experienced workers. Proper installation and the integrity of the final product is at stake and should be closely guarded.
Let your customers know what is going on. Headlines on solar tariffs have everyone on alert and worried about the bottom line. Keep your customers up to date with the latest information via e-mail, social media, or whenever possible, face to face conversations over a table, rather than over the phone.
Reassure your customers and strengthen your bond with them in this time of turmoil. Becoming a thought leader is a great way to project yourself as informed, calm, and rational, instead of sitting and waiting for worried customers to come to you. Intuitively, they will begin to look to you for guidance and answers, before they have even formed their questions.
Economically viable clean energy is an ongoing aspiration, for everyone. While tariffs may not be reversed in the near future, now is the time to speak to representatives and constituents about your company’s investment in renewables, and how they benefit the community.
Don’t underestimate personal connections. Speaking face to face with influencers is more powerful than the most well-crafted social media campaign. Let those in power know what your company is doing every day to make the world a better place, through the use of solar panels on rooftops, both residential and commercial.
Start a Conversation
Change is the only thing that’s certain as tariffs fall into place and the market adapts to a new normal. Contacting your insurance broker and provider, to ensure that your policies provide you with the correct coverage, is of the utmost importance.