The 30 percent tariff is scheduled to last four years, decreasing by 5 percent per year during that time. Solar developers say the levy will initially raise the cost of major installations by 10 percent.
Leading utility-scale developer Cypress Creek Renewables said it had been forced to cancel or freeze $1.5 billion in projects — mostly in the Carolinas, Texas, and Colorado — because the tariff raised costs beyond the level where it could compete, spokesman Jeff McKay said.
That amounted to about 150 projects at various stages of development that would have employed three thousand or more workers during installation, he said. The projects accounted for a fifth of the company's overall pipeline.
Developer Southern Current has made similar decisions on about $1 billion of projects, mainly in South Carolina, said Bret Sowers, the company's vice president of development and strategy.
"Either you make the decision to default or you bite the bullet and you make less money," Sowers said.
Neither Cypress Creek nor Southern Current would disclose exactly which projects they intend to cancel. They said those details could help their competitors and make it harder to pursue those projects if they become financially viable later.
Both are among a group of solar developers that have asked trade officials to exclude panels used in their utility-scale projects from the tariffs. The office of the U.S. Trade Representative said it is still evaluating the requests.
Other companies are having similar problems.
Scott Canada, senior vice president of renewable energy at solar project builder McCarthy Building Companies, said his company had planned to employ about 1,200 people on solar projects this year but slashed that number by half because of the tariff.
Pine Gate, meanwhile, will complete about half of the 400 megawatts of solar installations it had planned this year and has ditched plans to hire 30 permanent employees, Hanes said.
The company also withdrew an 80-megawatt project that would have cost up to $150 million from consideration in a bidding process held by Southern Co. utility Georgia Power. It pulled the proposal late last year when it learned the Trump administration was contemplating the tariff.
"It was just not feasible," Hanes said.