- Troy Van Beek is the founder and CEO of Ideal Energy.
- He lives in Fairfield with his wife and business partner, Amy.
The past few years have been nothing short of a long, wild rollercoaster for solar businesses in Iowa and across America. This “solarcoaster,” as I like to call it, has included a recession, boom in the early 2010s, threat of tariffs under then-President Donald Trump, improved affordability, a world-altering pandemic, record deployment expansion, and now another threat of tariffs under President Joe Biden.
I founded Ideal Energy at the height of the Great Recession not because I thought I could make millions, but instead because I believed that clean energy is a great equalizer for America, empowering and creating a better future for our communities. After serving as a US Navy SEAL, I came home to the Midwest in 2006 and realized that our nation’s long-term reliance on volatile fossil fuels was not only going to keep us stuck in the past but also make our nation vulnerable to long-term security alerts.
The solarcoaster has threatened to derail my dreams many times — just ask my wife and business partner, Amy — and this year was no exception. On March 28, the US Department of Commerce announced it would open an inquiry into an allegation made by a single, small company that solar panel imports from four Southeast Asian countries were violating US trade policy. Overnight, the decision imperiled businesses like mine. With the threat of up to a 250% tariff on imported solar components, solar businesses were effectively frozen, and the jobs of 230,000 American solar workers were put at risk.
More:Opinion: Iowa’s rural prosperity through solar energy is under attack
Thankfully, Biden has since announced a 24-month moratorium on new solar tariffs and invoked the Defense Production Act to jumpstart domestic solar production and other domestic clean energy manufacturing. For solar businesses across America, this was news well worth celebrating. The Biden administration’s executive action will deliver on the clean energy future the president promised and ensure solar energy will help our nation meet its commitments to tackling the climate crisis while lowering energy prices and creating jobs across the United States.
Considering the recent Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia v. EPA, which narrowed the authority of the Biden administration to address climate pollution from power plants, strong investments by Congress are needed to accelerate the growth of clean electricity generation. Utility-scale solar, for example, is one of the best tools we have to reduce carbon pollution and put our nation on the path to a clean energy future.
However, America is still not off the solarcoaster just yet. Solar businesses are still grappling with rising inflation and ongoing supply chain issues, which threaten recent progress. And, the Commerce Department’s inquiry is still ongoing, and until it is resolved, the threat of tariffs 24 months from now still lingers.
While the Biden administration has called for clean energy investments to advance our nation’s solar future, it is now up to Congress to finish the job. Last year, the US House of Representatives approved $555 billion in clean energy investments, tax credits, and incentives — including many for solar energy. These investments remain stalled in the Senate, but there is hope.
It is time to shut down the solarcoaster, and with Congress and the president working together to invest in clean energy, we can do just that, once and for all.
Troy Van Beek is the founder and CEO of Ideal Energy. He is a former US Navy SEAL. Van Beek lives in Fairfield with his wife and business partner, Amy.