CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WVEC)-- It's the world's fastest growing energy industry.
President Donald J. Trump this week signed an executive order designed to protect the U.S. solar industry, but some people wonder if he might be doing more harm than good.
As part of his America First campaign, Trump this week signed the order imposing a new 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and modules, effective February 7th.
"This is for solar products, so that we'll be making solar products much more in the United States," the President said, in a White House ceremony. "Our companies have been decimated and those companies are going to be coming back strong."
The idea is to help American solar component manufacturers. But some stakeholders worry the new duties could slow solar system installations in the U.S. by driving up the cost to customers, thereby, reducing demand.
"With the tariff, it's going to add price to the bottom line of a system, so if the tariff is 30 percent, that tariff is going to be passed along to the consumer," said Thomas Stout, Dean of Tidewater Community College's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics--"STEM"--program.
TCC has already educated more than 120 military vets in the last two years, teaching them how to be installers in the booming solar industry, which generated $154 billion in economic activity in 2016, and employs more than 370,000 people in the United States.
Stout is confident the solar industry will adapt to this change.
"If prices go up in one place, they're going to figure out how to improve and reduce prices in other ways," he said.
But, the Solar Energy Industries Association says the tariff will cost about 23-thousand Americans their jobs and result in the loss of billions of dollars in solar investments.