Solar panels

Scot Arey, owner of Solar CenTex in Harker Heights stands beside a Tier-1 solar panel in his showroom. Arey stocked up on the panels to counter the recent 30-percent U.S. tariff on solar panels made mainly in Asia.

Val Valdez | Herald

While others in the U.S. solar industry may take a dim view of the recently enacted tariff on imported solar modules, Scot Arey, owner of Solar CenTex in Harker Heights, sees it as an opportunity for American innovation to shine.

“I think the long-term viability of the U.S. solar industry only comes with the necessary innovations that American manufacturers will put in place to make solar modules better and better,” Arey said this week.

In 2017, The U.S. International Trade Commission recommended a range of penalties on imported solar modules based on a trade case brought by two U.S. solar manufacturers, Suniva and SolarWorld. The companies claimed injury to domestic manufacturers from “dumped” global imports, mainly from Asia.

Subsequently, President Trump approved a 30 percent tariff on solar imports. This tariff will last for four years and will fall by 5 percent annually, dropping to a 15 percent in 2021.

“The president wants to support domestic manufacturing,” Arey said.

Arey doesn’t see the tariff being as dire as some have predicted, like the tariff costing tens of thousands of solar installation jobs by increasing the overall cost of a solar system.

He cited other components, besides the modules, which are not seeing price increases. The inverter, wiring and racking and labor costs are holding steady or seeing cost efficiencies, although he noted that some local permit costs in the area are increasing.

What is not going up are Solar CenTex prices since Arey anticipated the tariff months ago and bought a large supply of Tier-1modules.

“I made a major investment in the best modules that few of my competitors could so our customers today can get a solar installation at the same cost from us,” he said.

Additionally, Oncor announced its annual solar incentive program increasing the size of a solar system up to 20 kilowatts, and up to $10,000 per customer. The 30 percent federal tax credit is available through 2019.

Now in its sixth year, Solar CenTex is approaching its 400th completed project, which includes residential, small commercial and ranches.

The company was selected as the 2018 Best in Renewable Energy in the yearly Killeen Daily Herald readers poll.

“It’s a great way for others to see that choosing a local solar installer gets them the best value and quality,” Arey said.

Even with the tariff, Arey said people shouldn’t think they have missed their chance to go with solar.

“The sun is still shining bright on the Texas Solar business,” he said.

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