Solar Builder

MAR-APR 2018

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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14 M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 A t Solar Power Northeast, we sat down with Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA CEO, to chat about where her organization and the solar industry go now that the trade case drama has ended and the 30 percent tariff is in place. You should head to solarbuildermag.com to hear the entire chat, but here's a preview. Was SEIA surprised by the trade case outcome? "I was a litigator for a long time, and when you get ready to try a case, you get completely convinced of your own posi- tion and it can be hard to see outside of that. I felt like, at least for me personally, there was a brief moment in time that I was entirely convinced there would be no finding of injury, no tariff and this would all go away. I became disabused of that idea pretty quickly [laughs], and so in the realm of the possible, we have a president who likes tariffs, who ran on an aggressive trade policy. So, we knew there would be something coming. And our job was to articulate why it was a terrible idea, but also to mitigate the impact and to put some boundaries around it. There were pieces of it that did provide some hope. The 5 percent step down was significant. The exclusion for cells at 2.5 GW. "One of the most interesting parts of the whole process was the galvanizing effect it had on our industry. In the face of a really significant threat, it brought together people in the solar industry and lots of people outside the solar industry." Will these new relationships lead to a longer term win for the solar industry? "I don't know if I would go quite so far as to say it was beneficial, but I do think there are unintended consequences that will benefit us. One of them is, our indus- try did galvanize and speak with one very loud voice. There was no question who the solar industry was and what our position was. I knew we had done a good job when I was sitting in the White House and someone echoed back to me how many jobs would be lost. And it was my number that my research department had put out. So when the administration officials told me it would be 88,000 jobs, I thought OK, we are doing something right. "And I think as an industry, for us to play on that big stage and to have the Sean Hannitys of the world involved, and to be on Fox and Friends , and to have the Heritage Foundation involved … it gave us a sense of what was possible. I feel strongly, we are 1 to 1.5 percent of energy generation now, and we're going to be 30 to 40 percent, and we're going to have to play on that big stage, and this was an opportunity to do that." What are the broader next steps? "I'll say two things. One is that I think it would be natural for the industry and association to step back, and take a deep breath, but that is the opposite of what we're going to do. Now is the time to step up. That's the general theme. "More specifically, we've looked at where the tariff is going to be the most impactful across the states, and we're put- ting together a package of ways that these states could mitigate the #TrumpTariffs. So, if you're in North Carolina, here are four things the governor or legislature or commission could do to help solar con- tinue to grow in North Carolina. "The energy world is so dramatically different than it was 10 years ago. There is consensus that things are changing, so part of our job is to make sure they change in a rational, structured way rather than go off a cliff." INTERWEBS ON THE On the Solar Builder Buzz podcast, editor Chris Crowell grabs a beer with solar experts from a variety of backgrounds to chat about the industry. What policies need to be in place to continue to grow solar? Head to www.blubrry.com/solar_builder_buzz for the full chat and to subscribe to the Solar Builder Buzz podcast. Q&A Solar trade case talk and what's next with SEIA CEO Abigail Ross Hopper

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