By Erick O’Donnell

Last month, President Biden vetoed a bill passed by Congress that would have reimposed tariffs on Chinese-manufactured solar panels. Although a majority in Congress wanted to protect the country’s straggling photovoltaic industry from alleged unfair trade practices—which threaten to undercut America’s PV manufacturers, impeding the industry’s growth— the president judged that, with climate change continuing to bear down on us, our priorities would be best served by allowing installation companies (including SunSolar Solutions) to access foreign imports.

The veto represents a lack of consensus over how best to balance competing priorities amid the country’s transition to a renewable-energy economy. To meet the commitments it has made to the rest of the world, the United States has to expand its capacity to generate power from non-polluting energy sources, including the sun’s rays, as quickly as possible, a goal most easily reached by way of unrestricted access to the needed equipment. But that strategy threatens to sacrifice another important national need: a robust modern manufacturing industry, one that can supply the resources vital to the country’s security and economic well-being. At a time when the past two administrations have made once-unthinkable commitments (at least, so far, in words) to a revived system of industrial policy, such a need is nothing to sneeze at.

The ideal scenario at a critical juncture like this would be for the nation’s leaders to be working harmoniously toward its most pressing needs, so conflicts like this are not encouraging. But government policy is not the only way to meet economic goals, especially in a dynamic market economy like ours. America’s middle class, still the largest and hungriest in the world, can pull when its government can’t push. With an ample stock of human capital, essential natural resources, and a huge number of affluent homeowners, Arizonans are especially well-positioned to spark a virtuous cycle of consumption and investment in the state’s most exciting industry.

Recent years have seen panel manufacturers announce their decisions to locate new factories here in Arizona, vindicating the state’s strategy to lure high-tech investment by cultivating a capable workforce and a business-friendly climate. JA Solar, a Chinese firm, announced in January that it would be building its first US-based plant in Phoenix, predicting that it would begin operating late this year with a workforce of about 600. In 2021, Swiss company Meyer Burger announced it would build a factory in Goodyear, citing the location’s “diversified and talented workforce,” its proximity to customers, and a helpful relationship with local and state economic-development organizations.

So it looks as if the elements of a strong base of supply are in place. What’s missing from the picture? If you got higher than an F in Economics 101, you probably guessed it: demand!

Arizona homeowners’ so-far healthy appetite for energy independence—whetted by a smart federal tax incentive—has propelled investment in the state’s nascent solar industry, enticing entrepreneurs (including the Arizonans who founded SunSolar) to stake their claims in the upstart fields of sales and installation. That leaves one crucial component ready to materialize: Manufacturing.

No matter how well their government might subsidize them, foreign manufacturers can’t increase production to infinity. At some point, it will only make sense to feed the country’s growing appetite for panels with a domestic supply base, and that’s when a domestic manufacturing industry (especially one strategically located near one of its largest customer bases) could really take off.

With such a self-reinforcing dynamic in place, Arizona—and the country—would be poised to naturally overcome the problem that some leaders want to artificially fix through supply-constraining tariffs. If there were an organically self-propelling solar economy in America, then political squabbles over how to nurture that economy wouldn’t be necessary.

Economic balance would lead to political balance, and our leaders could spend their time working together to build the energy infrastructure of the future.

Strong demand for a product only happens when people think about and recognize the value offered by that product. And in this case, it’s not just a product on offer—it’s an asset. A solar system is a durable, value-generating addition to your home that offers freedom from the unpredictable market for fossil fuels. By investing in it, you’re investing in your family’s—and America’s—energy future.

Dive deeper to uncover the burgeoning potential of Arizona’s solar industry and the pivotal role SUNSOLAR SOLUTIONS may play in this transformative phase.