Vectren, via WKYU

The Evansville energy company that serves 145,000 customers in southwestern Indiana has released a transition plan that phases out most coal-fired power and replaces it with natural gas and solar.

The Trump administration must decide by next week whether to impose tariffs on the imports of solar panel components.

Some U.S. manufacturers have complained that cheap imports are forcing them out of business, while domestic installers oppose tariffs because cheap, imported solar panels have driven the industry's recent growth.

This story comes from Colorado Public Radio and Oregon Public Broadcasting.

The U.S. solar industry is booming, in large part because of cheap, imported solar panels. But a U.S. trade commission says those imports also hurt manufacturers here. It's offering recommendations to President Trump on how to repair that damage, but the industry is divided over whether any remedy would do more harm than good.

Before a solar project, Mark Holohan usually gives his customers plenty of time to mull over the cost. But lately, installers are scooping up panels so quickly that Holohan has trouble guaranteeing a price for too long.

"We have a sort of panic buying mode in the marketplace right now. Inventories have fallen. Availability has decreased. Prices have risen," Holohan, the solar division manager at Wilson Electric, said over the clatter of machines and workers in the company's warehouse outside Phoenix, Ariz.

U.S. Army Fort Campbell, Facebook

More than 10% of Fort Campbell’s power requirement is now produced through renewable energy. 

As Coal Jobs Decline, Solar Sector Shines

May 6, 2017

Craig Williams is still mining coal despite tough times for the business. "We're one of the last industries around and hope to keep it that way," he says in a breakroom at Consol Energy's Harvey mine, south of Pittsburgh.

The father of two — speaking in his dusty work jacket and a hard hat with headlamp — says coal is the best way he's able to support his family. He declines to give his salary, but nationally, coal miners average about $80,000 a year.

Federico Rostagno, 123rf Stock Photo

The Kentucky Coal Museum won't need as much coal anymore. The museum in Benham (in Harlan County) is installing solar panels on its roof, part of a project aimed at lowering the energy costs of one of the city's largest electric customers. 

123rf Stock Photo

Despite the objections of some Shelby County residents, LG&E and KU Energy are moving forward with plans to construct Kentucky's second "community solar" farm. 

Hannu Viitanen, 123rf Stock Photo

Cosmetics maker L'Oreal USA is building thousands of solar panels at manufacturing facilities in Kentucky and Arkansas, a move the company says will help cut carbon emissions and create two of the biggest solar-powered projects in each state. 

Hannu Viitanen, 123rf Stock Photo

Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities are planning a new way to offer solar energy to residential customers.