US Solar Panel Makers Win US Trade Ruling

Ivan Schwartz
September 23, 2017

The U.S. International Trade Commission has determined that Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells (Whether or Not Partially or Fully Assembled Into Other Products) are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or threat of serious injury, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported article in the United States.

"The President will examine the facts and make a determination that reflects the best interests of the United States", said White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom in a statement released after the ruling.

The ITC will hold a hearing on October 3 to discuss potential remedies, including imposing tariffs on other countries, with plans to send a proposal to Trump by November 13, according to UtilityDive.

Workers install solar panels on a home in Katy in June.

The ITC found that low-priced, imported solar panels from China and other countries have hurt two domestic manufacturers.

The future of solar power in the USA was thrown into question Friday by a closely watched federal ruling.

But Trump's expected role is exactly where the fear lies for others in the solar industry. What's more, while each has a presence in the U.S., Suniva and SolarWorld are both foreign-owned companies arguing for the American market.

The commission voted 4-0 Friday that foreign-based manufacturers had unfairly undercut Georgia-based Suniva and Oregon-based SolarWorld Americas by "dumping" cheap products on the US market. Much of the boom in solar jobs has been in installation.

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"At a time when our citizens are demanding more clean energy, the tariff could cause America to lose out on 47 gigawatts of solar installations, representing billions of dollars of infrastructure investment in our states", wrote a group of governors including Brian Sandoval (R-Nev.) and John Hickenlooper (D-Col.) in a letter to the panel on Thursday.

The issue has split the solar industry.

SolarWorld Americas CEO Juergen Stein praised the decision, saying "we will strive to help fashion a remedy that will put the USA industry as a whole back on a growth path".

The commission will now devise a course of action to recommend to Mr. Trump by November 13.

Much of the industry opposes the effort, arguing that without low-priced imported panels, installations would plummet. He invited the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and others "to work on good solutions for the entire industry". "We're going to have to plan accordingly", the CEO said.

"Whether that growth would continue if Suniva is successful, that is pretty questionable", said George Hershman, general manager of Swinerton Renewable Energy, which is building a 150-megawatt solar farm in West Texas for NRG Energy.

Although a SEIA analysis concluded that such steep tariffs could result in the loss of 88,000 future solar jobs, a Suniva-commissioned study found such taxes on foreign imports were necessary to create future jobs.

Other reports by GizPress

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