By REBECCA THIELE
Posted October 4, 2018
It’s been about nine months since the Trump administration imposed strict tariffs on imported solar panels. We checked in with two solar companies in Indiana to see how they’re faring.
Ryan Zaricki is president and founder of Whole Sun Design Inc. in Bloomington. He says the prices of panels have increased, but for them they were worse before the tariffs went into effect.
“The threat of the tariff caused a lot of the big players in the solar industry to buy up a lot of inventory because they knew what they could get it for at that time,” he says.
Last year, the U.S. International Trade Commission recommended the tariffs after concluding that cheap foreign panels had hurt the domestic market.
Jim Straeter, president of Ag Technologies out of Rochester, says, if you think about it that way, the tariffs may have a silver lining — they leveled the playing field for American solar panel makers.
“So that’s a positive while the prices to the consumer have gone up,” he says.
Straeter says buying panels in advance of the tariffs made the transition easier for his company, but its panel supply costs still went up about 20 percent.
Both Straeter and Zaricki say, overall, the recent change to Indiana's net metering had a larger effect on their businesses than the tariffs.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.