WASHINGTON, June 21, 2017 - The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates 88,000 jobs could be lost if Suniva gets trade protections proposed in its petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).
The Georgia-based company asked the ITC to place a tariff on imported solar cells and set a price floor for virtually all imported solar panels, arguing that it cannot compete with foreign rivals. Suniva, which is majority-owned by a Chinese firm, filed the petition after declaring bankruptcy in April.
Despite Suniva’s claims that its move is meant to protect domestic manufacturing, SEIA found that about a third of the current U.S. solar manufacturing jobs will be cut if the petition is granted. States standing to lose the most jobs include California, with an expected job loss of 15,800, South Carolina with 7,000 jobs lost, and Texas with 6,300, according to preliminary estimates by SEIA.
“These new estimates show the potential damage to the solar industry as a result of this petition,” said SEIA President and 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.”
“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 case comes after a record-breaking year of solar energy growth in 2016, when industry jobs grew by 25 percent year-over-year and electricity generating capacity nearly doubled. SEIA forecasts that solar jobs would be lost in all segments of the market. The utility-scale market, which has paced the industry’s growth for years, would see jobs shrink by 60 percent, while residential and commercial employment would fall by 44 percent and 46 percent, respectively, SEIA said.
The ITC is expected to make a decision by Sept. 22. If it finds relief is in order, it will make a recommendation to President Trump by Nov. 13. The president then has 60 days to act.