Montana Public Radio

Montana Lawmakers Express Concern Over Solar Panel Tariffs

Oct 26, 2017

Montana lawmakers sent a letter to the state’s congressional delegates Thursday expressing concern that President Donald Trump may put taxes on solar panels imported into the United States.

Within the coming weeks President Trump could place tariffs on imported solar panels following complaints by two U.S. manufacturers saying that low-cost imports were hurting their businesses.

State lawmakers in the Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee voted 6-2 Thursday to urge Montana’s federal representatives to tell Trump that tariffs would negatively impact Montana’s growing solar industry, which has grown using cheaper imported panels.  

Billings Republican Daniel Zolnikov voted in favor of the letter.

"If consumers want to buy this or any product and you put a tariff in place, it makes it more expensive so they choose either not to purchase the product or they use some of their discretionary spending and they have less money to spent elsewhere,” Zolnikov wrote.

Other Republicans on the committee voiced concern that free trade policy has hurt American workers, and tariffs level the playing field for U.S. companies. Two Republicans voted to send the letter.

The Montana Renewable Energy Association testified in support of ETIC’s letter asking for Montana’s congressional delegation to help find solutions that do not harm the state’s solar industry.