However just lately the business has struggled with the uncertainty introduced on by new tariffs imposed in January 2018 by the Trump administration of 30% on imported photo voltaic panels. (These tariffs are set to say no by 5% annually. The primary 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells are additionally exempted annually, and sure merchandise, together with some cells made by SunPower, were exempted from the list.)
The Trump tariffs have been supposed to encourage American manufacturing however have been met with criticism from business advocacy teams, just like the SEIA, the place PetersenDean’s Liardon is a board member. The teams argued that larger prices and uncertainty for the business would result in job losses — they usually have been proper: in 2017 and 2018, photo voltaic employment declined by some 18,000 jobs.
On the time the tariffs have been introduced final yr, U.S. Commerce Consultant Robert Lighthizer launched an announcement that mentioned partially, “[T] he President’s motion makes clear once more that the Trump administration will all the time defend American employees, farmers, ranchers, and companies.” The Workplace of the U.S. Commerce Consultant refused to remark for this story, pastits published materials.
“When tariffs have been placed on our product and our costs grew to become dearer, we could not compete as effectively in opposition to different vitality sources,” mentioned Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the SEIA. “That further value must be borne in the end by the patron.”
Now the business is poised for a comeback of types, in part thanks to state initiatives reminiscent of California’s push to go photo voltaic. The outlook for job progress in 2019 sees a rise of seven%, to a complete of 259,400 jobs, in response to advocacy group The Solar Foundation's National Solar Jobs Census for 2018.
SEIA’s Ross Hopper mentioned the California mandate, together with company procurement of photo voltaic merchandise by large names like Target — and utility corporations investing extra in photo voltaic choices to save lots of clients cash — are all favorable developments that can doubtless enhance job progress in years to come back.
“As we glance ahead and at 2019 and past, we see that extra photo voltaic will likely be put in on this nation,” she mentioned. “And with that, clearly there will likely be extra photo voltaic jobs created as a result of we want of us to really do this growth and that set up.”
That is the place PetersenDean’s focus is true now, on discovering expert employees like 36-year-old Ruben Trujillo to satisfy demand. Installers make anyplace from $22 to $50 an hour, relying on ability set and expertise. The corporate’s advantages embrace health-care protection and 401(okay) retirement financial savings plans, in addition to ongoing coaching.
“Day-after-day is completely different. Each home is completely different, designs are completely different. So that you by no means actually see the identical factor each day,” Trujillo mentioned. “I get up trying ahead to really come to work.”