November 20, 2017

Public Hearing: Administration’s Action Following a Determination of Import Injury with Regard to Certain Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells

Potential Action: CSPV Cells

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer,

I write on behalf of the Energy Trade Action Coalition, (ETAC) a group of companies, associations and organizations who joined together to oppose trade restrictions on imported solar components. We are providing this statement to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to voice our strong recommendation to not impose tariffs or other trade restrictions on imports of solar cells and modules.

ETAC strongly disagrees with those remedies recommended by members of the International Trade Commission (ITC) that would restrict trade by imposing quotas and tariffs.  Imposition of these remedies would raise the costs of solar power and bring the solar industry one step closer to an unsustainable price point for its most basic inputs—the cells and modules that go into solar panels.  ETAC members represent virtually every corner of the solar industry—utilities, large-scale commercial users, solar manufacturers, installers, contractors and others—and have submitted strong evidence that safeguard solutions that restrict trade will cripple the very industry they are ostensibly designed to help.

The vast majority of the U.S. solar industry neither desires, nor needs, trade remedies. There are 260,000 (and growing) workers currently employed in the industry, including 38,000 who manufacture solar components right here in the U.S.  These workers understand that tariffs only darken the future of the booming solar industry, placing their own job prospects in this American business success story in jeopardy. 

A host of other voices from across the industry have described the negative long-term impact to the solar industry that would result from imposing trade remedies:

  • Military experts from all branches of service have declared that solar tariffs will negatively impact U.S. energy security and resilience. In recent comments submitted to the ITC, a group of retired military officials stated, “The proposed tariffs and minimum prices would double the cost of imported solar cells and modules used in utility-scale defense energy projects. This dramatic cost-increase could potentially jeopardize the financial viability of planned and future solar investments on or near domestic military bases.”
  • Utilities have pointed out that tariffs will prevent solar from maintaining grid parity, stanching its current rate of growth. In a statement to the ITC, Duke Energy’s Diane Denton said, “As solar energy is just approaching parity with the traditional grid resources in a number of states, a significant reduction in demand for new solar projects could deliver a serious blow to continuing development and evolution of this market.”
  • Commercial-scale solar users have weighed in against the tariffs. Jon Gold of the National Retail Federation stated, “Many brand-name retailers have committed to diversifying their energy portfolios.  With the growth of renewables over the past decade, a growing number of retailers are now relying on solar power to meet their energy needs.  This change is a direct result of the solar industry’s ability to compete with other sources of energy by providing cost-competitive power generation on an increasingly large scale….The misguided 201 trade petition would punish our members for being innovative and significantly raise their costs.”
  • Industry contractors have joined in the criticism of solar remedies. John M. Grau, CEO of the National Electrical Contractors Association, states that solar jobs are “good, middle-class jobs that promote apprenticeship, community-based hiring, and veterans. All this progress would be placed at risk if the government decided to cut off the cells and modules that form the basic ingredients of the U.S. solar supply chain.”

In addition, countless articles and analyses released in the past weeks point to the negative consequences of imposing solar tariffs. A recent study conducted by industry observer GTM Research concluded that a 40 cent per watt tariff would cut the demand for solar power in half, resulting in lost American solar manufacturing jobs as well as a weakened solar market because the price to install and manufacture solar would be too high to remain competitive.

Simply put, the best way to safeguard the U.S. solar industry and act in the public interest is to refrain from imposing tariffs or other unwarranted protection for these two companies.

We hope the USTR will take these facts into account as it works with other agencies in developing recommendations to the President related to the Section 201 investigation. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (202) 828-1714.

Thank you,

Paul Nathanson
Energy Trade Action Coalition


October 31, 2017

The Energy Trade Action Coalition (ETAC) expressed continuing dismay at today’s remedy vote by the four members of the International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC will next deliver a formal recommendation to the President by November 13, bringing the solar industry ever closer to a point at which inflated costs for imported components abruptly limit the growth prospects of a $23 billion U.S. industry that has created 260,000 American jobs.

Following is a statement from ETAC spokesperson Paul Nathanson:

“Today’s vote takes the solar industry one step closer to an unsustainable price point for its most basic inputs—the cells and modules that go into solar panels. Despite opposition from virtually every corner of the solar industry—utilities, large-scale commercial users, solar manufacturers, installers, contractors and others—the government is poised to impose a ‘safeguard’ solution that will cripple the industry it’s ostensibly designed to help.

“The hard truth is that the vast majority of the U.S. solar industry doesn’t want, or need, any trade remedies. There are 260,000 (and growing) workers currently employed in the industry, including 30,000 who manufacture solar components right here in the U.S., who understand that today’s vote darkens the future of this American business success story.

“Military experts from all branches of service have declared that solar tariffs will negatively impact U.S. energy security and resilience. Utilities have pointed out that tariffs will prevent solar from maintaining grid parity. And large-scale commercial users will no longer find solar a cost-competitive energy option for their operations.

“We urge President Trump to focus on the bigger picture at stake in this case. The best way to safeguard the U.S. solar industry is to simply refrain from imposing tariffs or other unwarranted protection for these two companies.”

 


OCTOBER 12, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    Contact: george felcyn
202-828-1715
george.felcyn@bracewell.com

Broad Array of Agricultural Groups
Oppose Solar Trade Tariffs

WASHINGTON – The Energy Trade Action Coalition (ETAC) today highlighted a broad array of agricultural groups that are opposing the Section 201 solar tariff petition.  Six agricultural groups recently submitted letters to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) opposing remedies that would raise solar energy costs.

“As the first stewards of the environment, U.S. farmers have invested in solar energy to diversify their sources of power and reduce their impacts,” said ETAC spokesperson Paul Nathanson.  “They are joining a wide range of other U.S. industries who are opposed to the U.S. government intervening in the energy market to artificially raise the cost of using solar power.  It’s clear that any tariffs or price floors to protect two solar companies will cause widespread damage to many sectors of the U.S. economy.

Agricultural groups that have submitted letters to the ITC include the Almond Alliance of California, California Citrus Mutual, California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, California Fresh Fruit Association, California Poultry Federation, and Western Agricultural Processors Association.  

Kelly Covello, President of the Almond Alliance of California, wrote, “Our members represent over 80% of the California Almond industry based on volume. We are deeply concerned the petition’s proposed trade remedy would be harmful by raising energy costs while eliminating economically viable means to comply with California’s strict carbon dioxide limits, water restrictions and renewable energy mandates.”

President of California Citrus Mutual, Joel Nelson, also expressed concern over the cost of investing in cleaner energy options, saying that “the proposed tariffs and minimum prices would double the cost of imported solar cells and modules used in farming operations thus jeopardizing the financial viability of planned and future solar investments by citrus growers and packers.”

Roger Isom, President and CEO of California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, emphasized the acute strain this proposed tariffs would put on rural areas: “Agriculture is most prevalent in rural areas that have high energy cost or limited grid access; solar adoption has been vital to keeping many family farms competitive in this world market along with the jobs that these small communities depend upon. Tariffs would create a massive setback in this progress and potentially take away the opportunity for farmers to invest in solar.”

These groups join other manufacturers, energy utilities and local, state and federal government officials who are warning about the serious consequences of solar tariffs to the American economy and to the thousands of jobs that depend on solar investments.

A sample of the letters submitted to the ITC is attached and to learn more about ETAC and its mission, visit www.energytradeaction.org.


october 3, 2017

The Honorable Lisa R. Barton
Secretary to the Commission
U.S. International Trade Commission
500 E Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20436

Re: Investigation TA-201-75

Dear Secretary Barton,

On behalf of the Energy Trade Action Coalition (ETAC), I am writing to express significant concern about the potential devastating impacts of imposing trade relief for the domestic crystalline-silicone photovoltaic (CSPV) cell/module industry. ETAC is comprised of a group of companies, associations and organizations––both domestic companies in the solar industry and solar consumers––who joined together in opposition to this Section 201 trade petition.

Tariffs would not make the domestic CSPV cell/module industry viable by the end of the remedy period, but would instead cause vast economic harm to the broader solar industry. In fact, a poorly tailored remedy will damage the very market actors on whom cell and module producers depend for their livelihoods, including ETAC’s own member companies, which include downstream customers that stand to see their costs rise while demand for solar drops accordingly.

Suniva and SolarWorld made a strategic decision to focus on the market’s residential and small commercial segments, thereby missing the opportunity to benefit from massive utility-scale segment growth. They also made numerous missteps that limited their success even in the residential and small commercial segments. Lack of scale, poor technological bets, and problems with quality, timeliness, and adequacy of supply have also plagued the petitioners, contributing to their inability to remain competitive.

While all sectors of the industry would suffer economic damage by the imposition of remedies, the consequences would be especially severe in the utility-scale segment, where the domestic cell and panel manufacturing industry largely does not compete. By raising import prices and/or reducing the availability of these products in the marketplace, trade restrictions would deprive solar of its competitive status on the grid, just at the critical point when solar is achieving grid parity with natural gas and other sources of energy.

Make no mistake: imposition of the remedies sought by petitioners would dramatically impact the users of solar and translate into large-scale job losses across the value chain at the very moment the industry has begun to grow in earnest. Solar is now a $23 billion industry that employs 260,000 American workers in good-paying jobs, including 30,000 workers engaged in manufacturing higher value-added solar components right here in the U.S. Overhauling the entire supply chain structure of the industry through prohibitive remedies will jeopardize all of that growth, diminishing the very industry petitioners seek to finally participate in in a productive manner.

We respectfully urge the Commission to factor in the extensive negative downstream economic consequences to the U.S. solar industry as a whole, and users of solar energy, that would result from the imposition of remedies as you consider a formal recommendation for relief to the President. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Paul Nathanson
202-828-1707


september 22, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    Contact: Frank Maisano
202-828-5864
frank.maisano@bracewell.com

Energy Trade Action Coalition Statement on ITC Injury Finding

The Energy Trade Action Coalition (ETAC) today expressed disappointment at the vote by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to continue the Section 201 trade case on imported solar components by determining that imports of solar cells and modules are causing injury to the petitioners.  ETAC also pledged to remain fully engaged in the trade case to strongly advocate that the ITC and President Trump avoid imposing any remedies that would threaten the U.S. solar industry and the many related industry sectors that use solar.  ETAC is a group of companies, associations and organizations who joined together to oppose the trade petition.

“The ITC decision to find injury is disappointing because the facts presented made it clear that the two companies who brought this trade case were injured by their own history of poor business decisions rather than global competition, and that the petition is an attempt to recover lost funds for their own financial gain at the expense of the rest of the solar industry,” said ETAC Spokesperson Paul Nathanson. “ETAC will continue to fight vigorously during the remedy phase, encouraging Administration officials and Members of Congress to help ensure that no remedies are imposed that would threaten the solar industry’s ability to compete with other energy sources.”

“Utilities, power co-ops, retailers, manufacturers and other large commercial users, along with conservative groups who have criticized federal solar subsidies, all agree that unwarranted tariffs would cause severe damage to the solar industry while setting a terrible precedent for future trade cases,” continued Nathanson. “Artificially raising the price of solar products would increase costs for solar power consumers and jeopardize tens of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs.”

The ITC will now begin the “remedy phase” of the 201 process and hold a hearing on October 3, 2017.  The ITC will vote on October 31 on a specific recommendation to President Trump for import restrictions.  President Trump then has the option to reject, accept or change the ITC’s proposal.  

ETAC is working to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining access to globally priced products to support American energy industry competitiveness, sustain tens of thousands of good-paying American manufacturing jobs and preserve the principles of free and fair trade in a global marketplace.

For additional information on ETAC and the Section 201 Solar Trade Petition, visit www.energytradeaction.org.


august 14, 2017

Energy Trade Action Coalition: Solar 201 Case Should End in Injury Phase

The Energy Trade Action Coalition (ETAC) today urged the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to end the Section 201 trade case on imported solar components that currently is threatening the U.S. solar industry.  ETAC is a group of companies, associations and organizations who joined together to oppose the trade petition.

“This Section 201 petition is not designed to protect or grow solar jobs in the U.S.; it is an attempt by two companies that made poor business decisions to recover lost funds for their own financial gain at the expense of the rest of the solar industry,” said ETAC Spokesperson Paul Nathanson.  “As the solar industry continues to grow and compete with other energy traditional and renewable energy sources, now is not the time to undercut its momentum by doubling the price of solar panels for consumers.  This is why ETAC members, which includes utilities, power co-ops, retailers and other large commercial users, are so active in making their voices heard to prevent these unwarranted tariffs.”

“The ITC staff report shows that the industry’s production and capacity are expanding and there are new entrants coming into the market,” continued Nathanson.  “This indicates that the prospects for the solar industry are strong and imports are not a problem for American solar company growth.”

The ITC is holding a hearing tomorrow, August 15, to determine if solar cells from overseas are “causing or threatening serious injury” to a U.S. industry.  If the ITC finds in the affirmative, it must recommend appropriate remedies to President Donald Trump.  If the ITC does not find injury, the petition is denied and the trade case ends, allowing the industry to focus on continuing its remarkable growth trend and allowing consumers more energy choices.

ETAC works to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining access to globally priced products to support American energy industry competitiveness, sustain tens of thousands of good-paying American manufacturing jobs and preserve the principles of free and fair trade in a global marketplace.

For additional information on ETAC and the Section 201 Solar Trade Petition, visit www.energytradeaction.org.

Quotes from ETAC members:

 “As one of the most experienced solar installers in the U.S., Borrego Solar strongly disputes Suniva and SolarWorld's claims before the ITC. These companies' financial troubles are largely self-inflicted, and their failure to compete with manufacturers in both the U.S. and the rest of the world should not be used as an excuse to set the American clean energy industry back precisely when the need to increase our domestic clean energy supply is greatest.” - Mike Hall, CEO, Borrego Solar Systems, Inc.

“A growing number of retailers are relying on solar to meet their energy needs.  Our members’ use of solar as an energy source is a direct result of the solar industry’s ability to compete with other sources of energy by providing cost-competitive power generation on an increasingly large scale.  This misguided 201 trade petition would punish our members for being innovative and significantly raising their costs.  The U.S. International Trade Commission should find no injury and terminate this investigation as soon as possible.” - Jon Gold, Vice President, National Retail Federation

“The Suniva/Solar World bailout request will cause rooftop solar installation costs to sky rocket. Many Florida residents choose to install solar panels on their roofs to save money on their electric bills and to protect the environment.  The requested bailout will make it harder for consumers to afford solar. Retirees will be hit the hardest.” - Tory Perfetti, Florida Director of Conservatives for Energy Freedom

“There are over 200,000 good, high paying jobs in solar right now, and that number is growing quickly.  Protectionist trade barriers will not make American solar manufacturing more competitive, but absolutely will kill the good jobs that exist by pricing many customers out of the market.” 
- Anthony Fotopoulos, Co-Founder of Keystone Power Holdings


July 21, 2017

ENERGY TRADE ACTION COALITION FORMED TO FIGHT PROTECTIONISM IN SOLAR INDUSTRY

201 Trade Petition by Two Bankrupt Solar Companies Threatens Entire U.S. Industry

Washington, DC — The Energy Trade Action Coalition (ETAC) was launched today to fight trade protectionism with an initial focus on the Section 201 trade petition on imported solar components.  Filed by two heavily indebted solar companies, the 201 trade petition asks the Trump Administration to impose a drastic mix of tariffs and a floor price on imports of solar cells and modules that would double the price of solar equipment and damage the U.S. solar industry.

The Section 201 “Petition for Global Safeguard Relief – Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells and Modules” seeks a tariff of 40 cents per watt on all foreign-made solar cells and a floor price of 78 cents per watt on all foreign-made panels, doubling the price for the basic ingredients of the broader U.S. solar industry.  The $23 billion U.S. solar industry employs 260,000 American workers in good-paying jobs across the country.  If successful, the protectionist initiative would slash demand for new projects and make solar less competitive with other sources of power, decimating one of America’s most promising high-tech growth industries. 

“Tariffs meant to protect one industry can, and often do, have significant damaging effects on other domestic industries,” said Tori K. Whiting, Research Associate at The Heritage Foundation. “Imposing tariffs under Section 201, as Suniva and SolarWorld request, would be a step backward by adding another layer of federal subsidies which is something the Heritage Foundation opposes in all instances.”

The International Trade Commission (ITC) is currently conducting a review to determine whether there is evidence of injury, a process due to be completed by Sept. 22.  If the ITC decides in favor of the petitioners, it must recommend specific trade barriers to President Trump by Nov. 13.  The president then has 60 days to act on the recommendation.

“Protectionism is never the solution for an inability to compete globally,” said Bill Gaskin, former President of the Precision Metalforming Association, whose members felt the pain of the 201 steel tariffs imposed by the George W. Bush administration in 2002. “Our country’s trade laws should never be co-opted into causing widespread pain for the broader U.S. economy.”

“Voluntary free trade is always a good thing. And it's a good thing for every consumer; not just a few individuals or companies,” said Eli Lehrer, president of R Street Institute. “The solar case is an example of the worst kind of trade protectionism. We're delighted to stand for freedom and free markets.”

ETAC will actively engage with the Trump administration, Congress, the media and public to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining access to globally priced products to support American energy industry competitiveness, sustain tens of thousands of good-paying American manufacturing jobs and preserve the principles of free trade in a global marketplace.

For additional information on ETAC and the Section 201 Solar Trade Petition, visit www.energytradeaction.org.