Colorado solar companies fear job losses in wake of Trump’s tariffs

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DENVER -- A major move in Washington late Monday could leave thousands of workers in Colorado's solar industry without a job.

President Donald Trump Monday imposed new tariffs on solar panels and solar panel parts built overseas.

The 30 percent tariff is aimed at bringing manufacturing jobs to America, but it comes at the expense of companies that install solar panels.

The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association estimates 6,000 people in the state work in the industry and that 2,000 of those jobs could be lost.

"I think it will put companies out of business. The projections I've seen is we will lose tens of thousands, possibly 100,000 jobs nationwide," said Andy Pendl, co-owner of ARE Solar, one of more than a dozen solar installation companies in the Denver metro area.

Pendl fears electric bills could also soar. More expensive parts and panels means fewer people investing in solar.

He estimates prices will rise by about 15 percent and doesn't anticipate American manufacturing companies will be able to offer a cheaper product.

However, the tariffs will create jobs in the manufacturing sector. Most solar panels do currently come from overseas. Eighty to 90 percent of parts come from Asia.

"As far as I know, I couldn't even tell you if I could buy an American-manufactured panel, and I haven't been able to for many months," Pendl said.

Pendl is also skeptical, fearing the negatives outweigh the positive.

"The estimates on the manufacturing jobs added is in the hundreds and we're talking about a potential loss of 100,000 lost on the installation side," he said.

Trump also imposed new tariffs on imported washing machines. Those tariffs will range from 20 percent to 50 percent.

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