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December 17, 2017

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Tariff case moving forward, despite solar industry objections

A trade case pursuing solar product tariffs is moving forward after a commission found that imports had injured the domestic solar cell industry, a move that opponents say would signal higher prices and fewer jobs.

SolarWorld and Suniva are pursuing the rate case with the International Trade Commission. SolarWorld commended the commission’s decision Friday.

“On behalf of the entire solar cell and panel manufacturing industry, 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,” Juergen Stein, CEO and president of SolarWorld Americas, 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,” Stein said. “We will continue to invite the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) 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.”

Opponents of the case, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, have said the tariffs on these products could mean higher costs and fewer jobs.

“The requested tariff could inflict a devastating blow on our states’ solar industries and lead to unprecedented job loss, at steep cost to our states’ economies,” says a letter signed by Sandoval and the governors of Colorado, Massachusetts and North Carolina. “According to a study conducted by GTM Research, if granted, the tariff and price floors would cause module prices to double, leading solar installations — both utility-scale and consumer-installed — to drop by more than 50 percent in 2019.”

Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in a statement today that the case could double the price of solar and lead to 88,000 jobs lost nationwide in 2018.

“The ITC’s decision is disappointing for nearly 9,000 U.S. solar companies and the 260,000 Americans they employ,” Hopper said. “Foreign-owned companies that brought business failures on themselves are attempting to exploit American trade laws to gain a bailout for their bad investments.”

She said the association will continue to pursue a conclusion that will protect the solar industry. Today’s finding of damage to the domestic solar cell industry was the first in a three-step process that could last into early next year, when President Donald Trump would have to make a final decision.