After being rocked by Trump tariffs, the solar energy business is bouncing back

At PetersenDean, the solar business is simply booming.

The home improvement company offers both roofing and solar installations, and is seeing an increase in demand for solar panels thanks in large part to a mandate in California where it’s based. The state requires newly built homes to include solar power as a feature. The rule was passed last year and takes effect in 2020. As result, PetersenDean is projecting some 11,000 to 12,000 solar installations in 2019, meaning it needs workers, fast.

“We are constantly hiring installers,” Gary Liardon, PetersenDean’s consumer group president and chief operating officer said, as California has long been a leader in solar jobs. “But that mandate is going to increase our need for installers by roughly 300% just based on current install rates today,” he said. “So translated into literal terms, we will need another 350 to 400 installers by year-end.”

After two years of job losses in the solar industry, the mandate is welcome and advocates are projecting demand to pick up beyond just the Golden State.

Since 2010, the solar industry has grown rapidly — increasing some 150% to nearly 243,000 workers in 2018 from just under 100,000 eight years earlier, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said.

PetersenDean says it will need some 400 additional solar installers like Ruben Trujillo by year’s end, due to a new California mandate.

Source: Jacob Jimenez

But recently the industry has struggled with the uncertainty brought on by new tariffs imposed in January 2018 by the Trump administration of 30% on imported solar panels. (Those tariffs are set to decline by 5% each year. The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells are also exempted each year, and certain products, including some cells made by SunPower, were exempted from the list.)

The Trump tariffs were intended to encourage American manufacturing


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