PALO ALTO — Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made his name — and his companies — by taking huge risks, and for his latest bet-the-farm gamble, he might get a helping hand from America’s other risk-taker-in-chief: President Donald Trump.

Surprisingly, that help comes in the form of a new import tax on solar panels and cells.

Under a recent Tesla proposal, Musk agreed he wouldn’t get paid a dime over the next decade unless he can catapult Tesla’s market value more than 10 times higher — and the company expects its solar business to play an important role in that massive growth. Tesla envisions a future in which your home’s roof tiles draw energy from the sun’s rays, and its Powerwall home batteries fuel up your electric-powered Teslas while you sleep.

However, for many American companies selling solar panels and banking on a green-energy future, a controversial import tax by Trump has cast dark shadows: The administration is slapping hefty tariffs on imported solar panels, raising concerns among some solar companies that the added costs will dampen consumer demand and put thousands of American installers out of work.

The new import tax on solar panels and cells, which took effect Feb. 7, starts at 30 percent and declines to 15 percent over four years.

For Tesla, however, it appears any shadows will fall mainly on the competition. The Palo Alto company has an ace in the hole — or, rather, in Buffalo, New York. There, in partnership with Panasonic, Tesla is already producing home-grown solar panels and cells. And although Tesla still relies on solar-equipment imports, analysts believe the Buffalo plant could eliminate or reduce that need, giving Tesla an edge over rivals paying an import tax.

“Whether or not they become a beneficiary of those tariffs will be dependent on how quickly they ramp up …read more

Source:: East Bay – Business


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