Commercial, Industrial, Regulation, Solar - September 22, 2017
ITC finds US solar makers injured, case goes to Trump
The U.S. International Trade Commission on Sept. 22 made its first decision on a controversial, high-profile case with major implications for the country's solar industry, voting 4-0 to find that imports of low-cost solar panels are damaging domestic solar manufacturers.
In its decision, the ITC sided with the two struggling U.S.-based solar manufacturing companies, Suniva and SolarWorld Americas, who brought the trade case and blamed cheap Chinese solar module imports for devastating their businesses. Suniva and SolarWorld proposed a tariff of $0.40/watt on imported solar cells and a floor price of $0.78/watt on imported modules, according to a Sept. 22 report from Utility Dive.
In an initial bulletin from the ITC, the commission said it determined the imports to be "a substantial cause of serious injury, or threat of serious injury, to the domestic industry" producing the same items.
Utility Dive reported:
The ITC's finding puts the future of the U.S. solar industry into the hands of the Trump administration. With the injury ruling, the case now proceeds to the remedy phase, where the opposing sides will debate potential solutions before the ITC submits a formal recommendation to the White House.
In opposing the claims of Suniva and SolarWorld, the Solar Energy Industries Association, which has been flanked with support from a wide-range of companies, associations and organizations fighting against the petition through the Energy Trade Action Coalition, has said that such a decision from the ITC will cost hundreds of thousands of American solar jobs and "bring solar growth in all sectors to a screeching halt."
In a Sept. 22 statement, SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper called the decision "disappointing for nearly 9,000 U.S. solar companies and the 260,000 Americans they employ. Foreign-owned companies that brought business failures on themselves are attempting to exploit American trade laws to gain a bailout for their bad investments."
Hopper quoted analysts that have said 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.
The ITC has until Nov. 13 to make its remedy recommendations to the Trump administration, which will have two months to reach a final policy. Bloomberg News reported Sept. 22 that the move 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."