Trade Agency Rules Imported Solar Panels Harmful to US Manufacturing

Trade Agency Rules Imported Solar Panels Harmful to US Manufacturing”

"Friday's determination made clear that the USA industry's problems have not been self-inflicted, but rather are the result of surging imports", commented Juergen Stein, CEO and president of SolarWorld Americas.

If the case results in tariffs on imported solar panels, the USA solar industry could be upended, hurting efforts to move toward rooftop solar and other forms of distributed generation and reduce greenhouse emissions. The U.S. International Trade Commission voted to enable Trump to impose them at the behest of two distressed firms that warned the American panel manufacturing industry is in a state of collapse.

Today's unanimous decision ruled that the companies SolarWorld Americans and Suniva were struggling financially not due to their own poor management, but because they couldn't compete with cheap panels from countries like China, Mexico, and South Korea. Most rely on imports to keep prices competitive with other forms of electricity.

Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) responded via a press statement, arguing that potential trade barriers will raise the price of solar energy, reduce demand, chill private sector investment, and result in thousands of USA solar industry job losses.

Vaughn Woodruff, founder of Pittsfield, Maine-based InSource Renewables, says utility- and commercial-scale solar installers for months have been buying up panels as they become available, and he's followed suit - now carrying about 15 times his usual inventory. Industry observers expect him to put a tariff on imported panels - which could double their cost to consumers.

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