International Trade Commission votes against cheaper solar panel imports

Cheap imports have led to a boom in the U.S. solar industry, where rooftop and other installations have surged tenfold since 2011

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. trade panel has found that low-cost solar panels imported from China and other countries have caused serious injury to U.S. solar power manufacturers.

The unanimous vote Friday by the International Trade Commission sets up the possibility that the Trump administration will impose tariffs that could double the price of solar panels from abroad.

Georgia-based Suniva Inc., and Oregon-based SolarWorld Americas brought the case. They say a flood of imports has forced Suniva into bankruptcy and led SolarWorld to lay off most of its workforce.

Cheap imports have led to a boom in the U.S. solar industry, where rooftop and other installations have surged tenfold since 2011.

The trade commission has until mid-November to recommend a remedy to President Donald Trump, with a final decision on tariffs expected in January.

Cheap solar panels imported from China and other countries have led to a boom in the U.S. solar industry, where rooftop and other installations have surged 10-fold since 2011.

But two U.S. solar manufacturers say the flood of imports has led one to bankruptcy and forced the other to lay off most of its workforce.

The International Trade Commission is set to decide Friday whether the imports, primarily from Asia, are causing "serious injury" to the companies. If so, the commission will recommend this fall whether the Trump administration should impose tariffs that could double the price of solar panels from abroad.

Houston-based solar power company Sunnova released a statement Friday about the vote.

“It is disappointing that two uniquely mismanaged and uncompetitive foreign-owned companies have been able to benefit from a process meant to protect U.S. businesses that have truly been harmed by subsidized foreign competition,” said Sunnova’s CEO John Berger.

“We look forward to working with the Trump Administration to ensure the remedies considered do not harm our robust, rapidly expanding solar industry, which employs over 260,000 Americans. Tariffs, subsidies, and other market distorting remedies and policies harm both taxpayers and consumers who would benefit from open markets and robust competition.”

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