This morning (Sept. 22) the International Trade Commission (ITC) voted unanimously in a trade case that has roiled the US solar industry over the last five months or so. The case, which was brought by Suniva after it filed for bankruptcy, and joined by SolarWorld, seeks to impose tariffs on imported crystalline silicon solar panels and materials—essentially doubling the cost of solar. The 4-0 vote today means that the ruling will go to President Trump (R) who will decide whether or not to impose tariffs on imported photovoltaic panels.
“The ITC’s decision is disappointing for nearly 9,000 U.S. solar companies and the 260,000 Americans they employ,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Foreign-owned companies that brought business failures on themselves are attempting to exploit American trade laws to gain a bailout for their bad investments.”
Suniva, which was owned by people in China, and SolarWorld, which is a subsidy of Germany’s SolarWorld argued that they were unable to compete against Asian solar imports and seeked to impose tariff of up to 78 cents per watt on imported photovoltaic solar panels and cells under the “escape clause.”
SolarWorld celebrated the ruling. “On behalf of the entire solar cell and panel manufacturing industry, we welcome this important step toward securing relief from a surge of imports that has idled and shuttered dozens of factories, leaving thousands of workers without jobs,” said Juergen Stein, CEO and president of SolarWorld Americas. “In the remedy phase of the process, we will strive to help fashion a remedy that will put the U.S. industry as a whole back on a growth path. We will continue to invite the Solar Energy Industries Association and our industry partners to work on good solutions for the entire industry.”
The trade case will now move on into a remedy phase. “Analysts say Suniva’s remedy proposal will double the price of solar, destroy two-thirds of demand, erode billions of dollars in investment and unnecessarily force 88,000 Americans to lose their jobs in 2018,” Hopper said.
“While we continue to believe that this is the wrong decision, based on Suniva and SolarWorld’s mismanagement, we respect the commission’s vote and we will continue to lead the effort to protect the solar industry from damaging trade relief,” Hopper added. “We expect to be front and center in the ITC remedy process, and in the administration’s consideration of this deeply-flawed case.”
Hopper said she wants to reach a conclusion to protect the whole solar industry and its workers. She called the case a shakedown from two companies. She said it could also hurt the 36,000 people that work in solar manufacturing in the US that aren’t making solar panels.Tweet