Solar companies warn tariffs on imported panels would be devastating

Source: By Celine Castronuovo, The Hill • Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2021

Solar companies warn tariffs on imported panels would be devastating

A group of nearly 200 U.S. solar companies are calling on the Department of Commerce to reject recent petitions for tariffs on imported panels from some Asian countries, arguing that the measures would harm U.S. investment in renewable energy and efforts to combat climate change.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) wrote in a letter sent to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, which more than 190 companies signed onto, that there was an “immediate and serious threat posed to the U.S. solar industry from the anonymous circumvention petitions recently filed against solar cell and panel imports from Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.”

The coalition said that the tariffs, requested last month by a group that referred to itself as the American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention, “would devastate the industry and each of our individual companies.”

The SEIA said in a press release announcing the letter that the duties could cause the solar energy industry to “miss out on 18 gigawatts (GW) of solar deployment by 2023.”

The solar-energy trade association said that 18 GW is “equivalent to the amount of solar capacity installed in all of U.S. history prior to 2015.”

The group went on to say that the petitions, if approved, would create 50 to 250 percent duties on imports from the three countries, which account for 80 percent of all panel imports to the U.S.

“Our nation’s ability to effectively address climate change and fuel sustained economic growth relies on rapid deployment of solar and clean energy in the next 2-3 years,” the letter noted. “The petitions put this growth at severe risk and threaten the livelihoods of more than 230,000 American solar workers.”

“We urge you to use your authority and decline the anonymous petitioners’ request to initiate circumvention investigations,” the companies told the commerce secretary.

Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA president and CEO, said in a statement Wednesday, “I cannot overstate the dire threat that these reckless petitions are imposing on hundreds of thousands of American families.”

“The anonymous petitioners are asking the Department of Commerce to not only misinterpret U.S. law, but also overturn a decade of department decisions in solar trade cases, all to benefit a few anonymous petitioners at the expense of the entire U.S. solar economy,” she added.

The Hill has reached out to the Commerce Department for comment.

The group that filed petitions for the tariffs argued that the duties were necessary to combat Chinese solar cell and panels producers who they say have shifted manufacturing to those countries to avoid U.S. antidumping, according to Reuters.

The Biden administration, which has set an overall goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030, also said earlier this month that it would be aiming to produce 45 percent of U.S. electricity through solar power by 2050.