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Trump's tariff on solar panel imports will hurt installation companies in Missouri

Microgrid installed two solar arrays at Busch Stadium.
Microgrid Energy
President Donald Trump announced a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels this week. Missouri solar companies, including Microgrid Energy, say this will significantly raise the costs of doing large-scale projects that require installing many panels.

The 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels President Donald Trump announced this week could hurt Missouri's solar companies.

Prices of imported solar panels already are rising as companies want to buy them before the tariff takes effect, said Steve O'Rourke, vice president of business development at St. Louis-based Microgrid Energy.

The price of solar panels has been in flux since last fall, when the U.S. International Trade Commission found that imports hurt two domestic manufacturers and recommended a tariff to protect them. However, the U.S. solar industry imports 80 percent of its solar products, mainly from China.

"Missouri is already challenged with a regulatory environment that limits what can be done with solar," O'Rourke said. "This is not going to help."

O'Rourke added that the tariff will make large-scale projects more expensive, since panels take up roughly a quarter of the installation costs. It will also make it difficult for solar companies to hire more staff and expand operations.

"It's frustrating that the solar industry was targeted by two foreign-owned companies who have small manufacturing operations here," he said. "The loss of jobs from the decrease in business in the solar industry is going to more than offset any jobs that we save from those two manufacturers."

Follow Eli on Twitter: @StoriesByEli

Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.