Trump Tariffs Bump Up Costs for California Businesses

By on March 9, 2018

San Francisco Chronicle (PRNewsfoto/The San Francisco Chronicle)

By David R. Baker | March 8, 2018 

Most of the aluminum Claudia Wentworth’s company uses to make rooftop solar panel racks in Walnut Creek comes from the United States.

It is precisely the kind of American product that President Trump’s new tariffs on imported aluminum and steel are designed to protect.

NEXTracker, a Fremont company that makes tracking mechanisms and ground mounts for large-scale solar projects, manufactures both in the United States and abroad and obtains its steel from multiple countries. Although it’s still unclear which countries will be subject to the tariffs, CEO Dan Shugar expects steel costs to rise across the board. He still doesn’t know if NEXTracker will try to pass those costs on to customers. The threat of tariffs has already brought more uncertainty to the market for large-scale solar projects.

“It’s protectionism that increases costs for everyone, benefiting a limited number of producers,” Shugar said.

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