Trump’s plan to strangle the solar industry just backfired bigly

SunPower Corp, a multinational solar company founded in the U.S. of A.’s Silicon Valley in 1985, has announced it will put an immediate hold on a $20 million U.S. factory expansion that had promised hundreds of new jobs, unless the Trump administration excludes its solar panels from federal tariffs they imposed on the solar industry last week.

The anti-environment Presidon’t wants the freedom to exacerbate climate change without Chinese competitors gaining an economic advantage by importing their inexpensive solar panels to a market hungry for energy savings and environmental action.

However, companies like SunPower fear Trump’s short-sighted maneuver will elevate costs across the industry, triggering thousands of installation worker layoffs.

Like many companies these days, SunPower has employees at its Silicon Valley HQ and Texas plants, but also in plants abroad, in countries like the Philippines and Mexico.

In other words, Trump’s 30% tariff on imported solar products will not only hurt foreign companies, but American companies, as well. 

The Trump administration will not announce how to request an exclusion from the tariff until February 22, more than two weeks after the tariffs take hold.

Sun Power CEO Tom Werner told Reuters:

We make a different product that’s higher efficiency and that product costs more . . . We pay a higher tariff despite the fact that it’s an American technology . . . We have to stop the $20 million investment because the tariffs start before we know if we’re excluded . . . It’s not hypothetical. These were positions that we were recruiting for that we are going to stop.’

SunPower intended their $20 million investment to go, not just toward installation jobs, but also to positions in research and development, manufacturing and sales, and the development of next-generation cell technology.

Trump’s “America First” strategy is actually destroying our competitive edge in the world, by alienating us from an irrevocably globalizing economy, and putting us last in the development of alternative energies — which are a necessity, not just for the future of life on Earth, but for America’s competitive edge against other superpowers.

One can only hope that SunPower corp can leverage its position as a solar giant to change the White House position on alternative energy tariffs.

Then again, the Presidon’t is hardly known for making wise decisions.

Follow Lucia Brawley on Twitter and at

Lucia Brawley

Lucia Brawley is a Harvard- and Yale-educated writer, producer, actor, and political organizer. She runs the progressive political Facebook group Consenting to Lead. To learn more, please go to Follow her on Twitter: @luciabrawley