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Solar Industry Warns Against Possible Trade Barriers

A controversial effort to impose trade penalties on solar panels made overseas has many in the industry sounding the alarm. This comes as federal regulators start hearings in Washington D.C. on Tuesday to determine whether cheap imports are hurting United States manufacturing jobs.

“An existential threat" is how Abigail Hopper, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), describes the possible tariff on solar panel imports.

“If implemented it could double the price of solar panels and make solar less competitive with other energy sources. We think that would drive down demand,” Hopper said.

Shedding nearly 90,000 jobs - about a third of the growing industry - next year, Hopper said.

But those warnings don’t square with the two U.S. based manufacturers of panels responsible for the petition, Suniva and SolarWorld.

They argue a glut of cheap Asian panels has caused serious injury to domestic makers and that a tariff would actually grow more jobs at home.

While federal regulators will hear the case, the decision could ultimately end up with President Donald Trump who has promised to get tough on trade with China.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.