ITC issues - Smart Energy Decisions

Regulation, Solar  -  October 31, 2017

ITC announces remedy proposals in solar trade case

The U.S.International Trade Commission on Oct. 31 announced the remedies it will forward to President Donald Trump related to the high-profile Section 201 case that has major implications for the country's solar industry. 

The recommendations, summarized in statements from the four commissioners, amount to less than those proposed by the two domestic solar module manufacturers who brought the petition forward,  Suniva and SolarWorld, but would have a material impact if enacted. 

The Solar Energy Industries Association, which had been fighting against the petition in partnership with a wide range of companies, associations and organizations, noted in a statement that none of the commissioners agreed with the petitioners in full.

 "The commissioners clearly took a thoughtful approach to their recommendations and it’s worth noting that in no case did a commissioner recommend anything close to what the petitioners asked for. That being said, proposed tariffs would be intensely harmful to our industry,"  SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said. "While we will have to spend more time evaluating the details of each recommendation, we are encouraged by three commissioners' reference to alternative funding mechanisms, including our import license fee proposal."

The recommendations follow the ITC's earlier finding in the case, when it voted 4-0 to determine that imports of low-cost crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells are damaging domestic solar manufacturers.

Greentech Media reported Oct. 31: 

Commissioners Irving Williamson and David Johanson aligned on the proposal to place a 30 percent ad valorem tariff on imported crystalline silicon PV (CSPV) modules, to decline by 5 percentage points per year over four years. For imported solar cells, the two commissioners agreed on four-year "tariff-rate quota" that would allow for up to 1 gigawatt of tariff-free cell imports. Any imports over 1 gigawatt would be subject to a 30 percent tariff. Each subsequent year, the tariff rate would decrease by 5 percentage points and the in-quota amount would increase by 0.2 gigawatts. This proposal carries weight as the recommended remedy with the most commissioner support.

The commission said it will forward its final report, which will contain its injury determination, remedy recommendations, certain additional findings, and the basis for them, to the president, who has final authority on the matter, by Nov. 13. Bloomberg News reported Sept. 22 that the ITC's determination hands Trump "an opportunity to score political points on three priorities: He can slap a tariff on China and argue he's protecting U.S. jobs, all while undermining the economics of an industry that competes with coal."

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