When Suniva filed for bankruptcy in April it did not go gently into that good night. It shortly after filed a trade petition seeking tariffs on imported solar panels, holding essentially the whole US solar industry and its jobs hostage.
As the federal government, led by already embattled President Donald Trump (R), prepares to hear the case, it could have dire impacts on the American worker. Trump who favors coal, fossil fuels and protectionism over progressive energy policy and renewable energy, could see this as a further opportunity to diminish the ability of renewable energy to lead the US into a clean energy future. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) warned that about one-third of the US solar workforce, about 88,000 jobs could be lost, including domestic manufacturing jobs, if the case is upheld.
“These new estimates show the potential damage to the solar industry as a result of this petition,” said SEIA CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. “Rather than help the industry, the action would kill many thousands of American jobs and put a stop to billions of dollars in private investment.”
This far Suniva only has one supporter, SolarWorld USA. While the Oregon manufacturer of silicon solar panels continues to operate its parent company in Germany has filed for the equivalency of bankruptcy there.
“Our estimates show that even in the states where Suniva and its lone supporter, SolarWorld, have operations, if the petition succeeds, there would be many times more jobs lost than expected gains for two struggling companies,” Hopper said.
The industry trade group said that the states that could feel the biggest impact include California, which could lose 15,800 jobs. South Carolina, which could lose another 7,000 jobs and Texas, which could lose 6,300 jobs.
What’s more is that though Suniva was a Georgia-based solar manufacturer, it is majority owned by a Chinese firm yet he petition it filed with the US International Trade Commission complains that it cannot compete with the low costs of imported Chinese solar panels.
“Suniva’s trade petition has the potential to negatively impact more than a thousand hardworking Swinerton installers throughout the United States, with emerging utility-scale markets taking the hardest hit,” said George Hershman, senior vice president and general manager of Swinerton Renewable Energy. “Should the petition be approved, those markets would no longer be cost-competitive, killing a growing economy and a real opportunity for job creation.”
Should the ITC find on behalf of Suniva and Trump agree to its recommendations, the installation side of the solar industry—which employs most US solar workers now would be hardest hit. SEIA said the utility-scale market—the biggest employer—could see jobs shrink by 60 percent. The residential and commercial installation industries could see employment fall by 44 percent and 46 percent, respectively, it said.
For more information visit SEIA’s fact sheet.Tweet