PHOTO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich helps install solar panels on a home in Santa Fe with a team from SunPower by Positive Energy Solar, a New Mexico solar installation company, July 5, 2017.
January 25, 2018
The clean energy industry has been one of the brightest spots and fasted growing job sectors in New Mexico and the American economy as a whole. The largest new wind and solar projects in New Mexico's history broke ground last year. Thousands of New Mexicans work in clean energy jobs. With New Mexico's immense potential for solar and wind--not to mention our state's world-class energy research and development institutions--we have so much more room to grow.
Unfortunately, President Trump's decision on Monday to impose high taxes and quotas on imported solar panels threatens to stall a much-needed source of job growth in our state by spiking costs for installing rooftop and utility-scale solar projects. I wrote about the potential negative impact of this decision in an op-ed published by the Albuquerque Journal last month.
Raising taxes on imported solar panels might help the small number of domestic solar panel manufacturers stay in business. But the resulting spike in domestic solar installation costs will hamper the growth of the rest of the nation's solar industry. Higher costs will discourage new investments in rooftop solar--which is growing rapidly and providing jobs to New Mexicans like the Positive Energy Solar installers I met last year in Santa Fe. And it will make it harder to build utility-scale solar projects like the ones that helped bring Facebook's $500 million data center to Los Lunas.
Solar jobs are exactly the types of jobs we should be encouraging if we want to promote a trade policy that puts American workers first. That is not a partisan assessment. I've been proud to lead an effort with Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and a bipartisan group of senators in warning President Trump about the damage these taxes could do to one of the fastest areas of job growth and investment in American communities.
Any serious analysis of the overall American solar industry clearly shows that taxes on imported solar panels do more harm than good. President Trump's decision won't create a single manufacturing job in New Mexico. Instead, the Solar Energy Industry Association estimated on Monday that President Trump's solar taxes will result in a loss of 23,000 jobs in the solar industry nationwide in 2018. But President Trump has not exactly shown himself to be someone who carefully considers the facts or data when making important decisions.
There's no doubt that this is a significant speedbump for our solar industry. However, I remain confident in the longterm trend for solar, and renewable energy as a whole. We can still keep working to meet our climate goals, keep up our transition to cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy, and create thousands of new jobs in the process. I will continue fighting for policies that move our energy economy forward.
United States Senator