Solar trade case - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Industrial, Regulation, Solar, Sourcing Renewables  -  August 16, 2017

Solar industry squares off on high stakes trade case

The U.S. International Trade Commission on Aug. 15 heard hours of testimony from stakeholders to a high-profile case with major implications for the country's solar industry. 

The Section 201 trade petition on imported solar components was brought by two struggling U.S.-based solar manufacturing companies, Suniva and SolarWorld Americas. Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 allows for temporary import relief, such as tariffs, minimum pricing and quotas, in certain situations where increased imports of products that are causing "serious injury" to an American industry.

In this solar trade petition, filed in April, Suniva and SolarWorld Americas claim their businesses have been devasted by the flood of lower cost, imported solar modules. The companies proposed a tariff of $0.40/watt and a floor price of $0.78/watt, according to an Aug. 16 report from Utility Dive summarizing the nearly 10-hour hearing at the ITC. 

In opposing the petition, the Solar Energy Industries Association, which has been flanked with support from a wide-range of companies, associations and organizations fighting against the petition under the recently formed Energy Trade Action Coalition, says if the ITC grants the request, it will cost hundreds of thousands of American solar jobs and "bring solar growth in all sectors to a screeching halt." 

Utility Dive reported: 

Partnering up with SEIA, however, is the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The groups have usually condemned the solar industry for its generous use of federal and state incentives. But now both conservative organizations say the proposed tariffs would stifle free-market principles and undercut competition. A GTM Research report estimated those tariffs could endanger two-thirds of utility-scale solar expected to come online in the next five years alone. Utility-scale solar developments compose roughly 80% of the U.S. solar market. And module costs make up between 20-50% of total installation costs.

Should the ITC determine that the influx of fairly traded goods was the main cause of serious injury to the American industry, it would recommend remedies to President Donald Trump, who has the ultimate authority to impose such remedies, the Energy Trade Action Coalition explains on its website. The commission is expected to make its first decision on the case — whether or not the volume of imported solar modules has been the main cause of injury to the domestic solar manufacturers — by Sept. 22. 

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