Raimondo speaks out on solar

Source: BY MATTHEW CHOI, Politico • Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo heads to the Hill today, and she’s bracing herself for a grilling on the department’s contentious probe into solar equipment imports from Southeast Asia, according to talking points obtained by POLITICO’s Doug Palmer and Kelsey Tamborrino.

Both industry groups and administration officials — including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm — fear the probe could suffocate the fast growing solar industry and prevent the country from hitting President Joe Biden’s clean energy goals. But Raimondo will defend the process, saying that the department is legally required to carry through with the probe that was triggered by a tariff petition from small California manufacturer Auxin Solar.

“We have a statute enacted by Congress that we must follow that does not currently allow us to consider factors such as climate change or supply chain. We will implement whatever the law is. If Congress decides to change the law, we will implement that,” she will tell a Senate Appropriations hearing on her department’s budget request.

She has also prepped a rebuttal to solar developers’ claims the investigation could lead to retroactive tariffs as high as 250 percent on the Asian suppliers. “The over 200 percent rate for solar products you mention does not apply to the vast majority of solar imports and would typically apply only to uncooperative companies that cannot differentiate themselves from the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communist Party,” Raimondo’s remarks say. “In most cases, the vast majority of Chinese solar imports are currently subject to combined AD/CVD rates between 12 and 20 percent.”

A recent analysis by Rystad Energy found that the probe could reduce planned U.S. solar installations by 64 percent this year. As much as 17.5 gigawatts of the 27 GW of newly planned capacity is now in doubt since Commerce initiated the investigation. Panel imports are largely frozen while the investigation is ongoing as companies fear the risk of retroactive tariffs. Rystad said annual capacity additions could drop from 22.6 GW in 2021 to 10.07 GW this year — marking the lowest annual total since 2019.