Advocates call for passage of the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act to help save solar jobs in the state
ANNAPOLIS, MD—Clean energy advocates and Maryland legislators called for passage of the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act as a response to President Trump’s recent decision to impose tariffs on solar panels. On Monday, the Trump Administration announced that it would impose tariffs of 30 percent on imported solar modules and cells, creating an immediate negative impact on Maryland’s solar industry.
Delegate Bill Frick (D-16) stated: “Solar power has been a fast-growing industry in Maryland, bringing thousands of good jobs to our state. Now we need to do everything we can to make sure this industry continues to grow, and that means protecting our solar companies against unpredictable federal climate policies. The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act would create longevity for the solar industry, bringing thousands of new jobs for many years to come.”
Senator Brian Feldman (D-15) stated: “Now is not the time to rest on our laurels. Maryland needs to continue to bolster our renewable energy policies and stand up for our expanding solar industry. That is why I am sponsoring the Clean Energy Jobs Act in the Senate.”
In Maryland, the solar industry has been growing rapidly. Between 2015 and 2016 the solar industry grew 20 times faster than the state’s overall state economy. Maryland currently has 5,400 solar workers and enough solar energy to power over 68,000 homes.
“By slapping tariffs on solar panels, President Trump slowed down the growth of clean, renewable power in Maryland,” said David Murray, Executive Director of MDV-SEIA. “We cannot allow poor decisions in Washington to jeopardize the lives of 5,400 solar workers across the state. It is more urgent than ever that our state leaders pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act to ensure continued job growth, energy savings, and cleaner air and water for generations to come.”
Ed Merrick Vice President of Trinity Solar, stated: “President Trump’s solar tariffs reverse all the hard work we’ve done these last 10 years to bring inexpensive clean energy to Maryland homeowners. It’s clear that Maryland needs to go it alone on creating the jobs of the future – clean energy jobs. Without Maryland leadership, we jeopardize the progress made on job growth and in building the clean energy economy for Marylanders. We need to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act now or we will lose a decade’s worth of solar investment.”
The tariff decision will cut about 23,000 jobs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Administration (SEIA). Solar manufacturing now represents just a fraction of the overall jobs that have developed around the solar industry. More than 260,000 Americans are employed in the sector, but fewer than 2,000 of those employed in the United States are manufacturing solar cells and modules.
“Declining solar costs have been critical to the growth of solar as a tool for states, cities and utilities to provide energy bill assistance to low-income customers and a major driver of well-paid entry-level jobs,” said Nicole Steele, Executive Director of GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic. “The tariffs will dampen job growth and make it harder for Maryland families to get relief from high energy costs. GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic is committed to continuing our important work toward a transition to clean energy that includes everyone, and will work with our government, industry and community partners to minimize the impact of the tariffs and promote clean energy jobs legislation in Maryland.”
The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act would commit the state’s utilities to secure 50% of their electricity from renewable energy sources like solar by 2030. This includes increasing the state’s specific solar commitment from its current level of 2.5% of total electricity by 2020 to 14.5% by 2030, which would greatly increase demand for the energy source. By raising Maryland’s clean energy standard — also known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard — to 50% by 2030 with an additional solar carve-out, Maryland could support and retain nearly 20,000 jobs in the solar industry.