WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2017 -- The United States International Trade Commission has determined that imports of solar cells and modules have hurt the American solar business.
In a decision released today, the ITC found that crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells “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 competitive products.
The commission sided with petitioners Suniva and SolarWorld Americas, solar panel manufacturers that have each filed for bankruptcy claiming they could not compete against the imports. The companies are asking the ITC to provide relief for solar manufacturers by imposing large tariffs on imported photovoltaic cells, as provided under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974. The commission must now decide on a recommendation for a possible remedy for the injury, which then goes to President Trump for a final decision.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Energy Trade Action Coalition (ETAC) said the ITC decision is disappointing.
“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,” according to Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. In a release, she urged the commission to consider the industry as a whole – including 9,000 U.S. solar companies and the 260,000 Americans they employ -- in its remedy recommendations.
ETAC spokesman Paul Nathanson said the petitions filed by the two companies were “an attempt to recover lost funds for their own financial gain at the expense of the rest of the solar industry” and that the facts presented during the investigation “made it clear that the two companies … were injured by their own history of poor business decisions rather than global competition.”
Both the ETAC and SEIA are vowing to protect the domestic industry as the case moves forward.
“ETAC will continue to fight vigorously during the remedy phase, encouraging administration officials and members of Congress to help ensure that no remedies are imposed that would threaten the solar industry’s ability to compete with other energy sources,” Nathanson said.
Juergen Stein, president and CEO of SolarWorld Americas, understandably was pleased with the decision.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“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. It is time for the industry to come together to strengthen American solar manufacturing for the long term.”
The ITC will hold a hearing on the remedy question Oct. 3, then vote on Oct. 31 on a specific recommendation – including tariffs or trade adjustment assistance -- to President Trump, who can then reject, accept or change the ITC’s proposal.
Both ETAC and SEIA have been outspoken about tariffs, saying they would stifle the nation’s solar industry and inhibit demand.
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