Published: Mon, September 25, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Washington's solar decision could cost Texas jobs, help manufacturing elsewhere

Washington's solar decision could cost Texas jobs, help manufacturing elsewhere

The International Trade Commission voted 4-to-0 on Friday in determining that low-priced solar panels imported from China and other countries have caused serious injury to American manufacturers.

"The trade commission made an enormous and risky mistake in its liability finding", said Howard Crystal, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. If the ITC accepts the proposed pricing and tariffs - or, for that matter, any tariff - the president will have an opportunity to make good on his promises to institute tariffs to drive US manufacturing jobs.

"These trade penalties will be, at best, a mildly corrective action that does nothing to effectively advance an industrial strategy to be a leader in clean energy", Aney said.

"We're hopeful that the president will make a strong proclamation on remedy, and we're hopeful that the industry can move forward together to expand and strengthen solar manufacturing here in America", SolarWorld's attorney Timothy Brightbill told GTM. The Trump administration will then have until January 12 to make a final decision. Were it to rule in favor of Suniva, the ultimate decision on a broad solar tariff would lie with President Donald Trump.

The commission will now devise a course of action to recommend to Mr. Trump by November 13. The installers and utilities that use solar power argue that stiff tariffs could reduce solar's cost-competitiveness, just as in some American states it is hitting parity with other forms of power generation.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, an industry body, says Suniva's proposal would hit billions of dollars of investment and throw 88,000 people out of work next year.

A Deutsche Bank research note in August said: "By definition, any remedy recommendation needs to consider both short term and long term implications on the entire solar sector as well as consumers".

Suniva, based in Norcross, Georgia, filed its complaint with the commission in April, saying tariffs are the only way USA manufacturers can compete with cheap imports from Asia.

The injury ruling by the International Trade Commission could threaten, industry supporters have argued, as prices for solar panels may double, depending on the recommended tariff levels. "We need the Trump administration to secure America's position as an energy innovation leader, or a global competitor will undoubtedly seize the moment".

Workers install solar panels on a home in Katy in June. During a marathon 10-hour hearing in August, Suniva and SolarWorld said almost 30 solar manufacturers went under as a result of a flood of cheap Chinese solar modules, which were heavily subsidized by the government.

The industry also generated more than $80 billion to the country's GDP a year ago, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Solar Foundation. "The 201 filing has already resulted in lost jobs in the USA and, unfortunately, that will continue as projects-especially in the utility and large commercial sector-are delayed".

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